Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

AUSD Board approves LGBTQ Pride Month resolution on 3-2 vote

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Split over raising rainbow “pride” flag at district schools and offices

By Allen Payton

The Antioch School Board approved adoption of a resolution recognizing June as LGBTQ Pride Month and flying the rainbow “pride” flag at the district offices and at each school in the district.

“This is the first year we are bringing this resolution forward. We believe it’s important,” said Superintendent Stephanie Anello. “A lot of people don’t know that 10% of the population are represented in this demographic.”

“I want to thank Superintendent. It really made me proud to be part of this district,” said Trustee Ellie Householder. “We’ve seen an increase in hate crimes of LGBTQ youth…and contemplate suicide at three times the rate of heterosexual youth.”

She also asked to have the LGTBQ Pride Flag be raised at the district, for at least the first week of the month, and clauses added to the resolution.

“I’m pleased to see this resolution,” said Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White. “in addition to the resolution my suggestion is a workshop for teachers, this fall, for counseling and to support the students throughout the school year. Their parents don’t understand where they’re coming from. They don’t even feel human. This is the time to address this in 2019.”

“We have offered training in the past, it is scheduled again in the fall,” Anello said.

However, both

“I agree this is a wonderful resolution,” Trustee Mary Rocha said. “But if we put up one flag, we need parameters or we’ll be putting up different flags.”

“We don’t have a policy on flags going up,” Anello. “I do believe we need to treat all groups similar. To codify that into policy, I would recommend that to the board.”

“I fully support the group. I think it’s a wonderful resolution,” Board Vice President Diane Gibson-Gray. “But it opens a door we’re not ready to open with this resolution at this time. I’m going to recommend we don’t raise a flag with this one.”

“I did some research into this. The California Ed Code recognizes this month as LGBTQ Awareness Month,” Householder responded.

“Does the flag go up at all school or just one spot?” Rocha asked.

“Will it be the African American resolution or the Black History Month resolution or the Autism Awareness resolution,” asked Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White. “That’s three right there.”

“This resolution doesn’t necessarily say we’re definitely going to raise this flag, it represents this district’s celebration of diversity,” Householder argued.

She also asked for a celebration and a flag raising, then think about it for next year.

“The week after (next) the city council is also doing a flag raising, as well,” Householder stated.

“This costs us so little and it means the world to them and it’s a matter of life and death,” she added. “The impact this will have for our young people and the community as a whole.”

Only two people spoke during public comments, both in favor of the resolution.

“You’re opening a door to my closet,” said Deb Hubbard, Vice President of the Antioch Education Association and a teacher at Antioch Middle School for 12 years. “I’m 58. I started in this district when I was 36. When I was about 32 I came out to my parents. They were good, Christian Lutherans dragging me to church. My parents said you are our daughter, Deb we love you know matter what. I was lucky. I was blessed. I didn’t even come out to my colleagues until Rachel Zinn at Dallas Ranch.”

She spoke about being bullied by students.

“Please open this door to the closet for all of our students,” Hubbard said. “We are 10% of the population. We are 10% of the Irish, of the KKK, 10% of the autistic kids. We have 16,500 students in this district…1,650 students are gay, lesbian, transgendered, queer whatever you want to call it.”

“For those of you worried about flying it at elementary schools, honey, I can’t make a straight person gay any more than you can make me straight,” she continued. “Grow some courage and put the flag up at the district and every single school.”

“I will vote no if it has the revision,” Gibson-Gray said. “I will vote yes without the revision.”

The resolution including the language regarding flying the rainbow “pride” flag passed 3-2 with Gibson-Gray and Rocha voting no.

The resolution reads as follows:

Antioch Unified School District Board of Education

RESOLUTION 2018-19-31


LGBTQ Pride Month

June 2019

 Whereas, June is a time to celebrate our dynamic LGBTQ community, raise awareness of quality services, and foster a dialogue to promote healthy, safe, and prosperous school climates and communities for all; and

Whereas, all children and youth should be able to attend school in a safe and inclusive environment free from discrimination, and civil rights laws contribute to such environments; and

Whereas, explicit federal statutory protections currently address discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, but not sexual orientation or gender identity; and

Whereas, the lack of awareness and understanding of issues facing LGBTQ children and youth has contributed to higher rates of school dropout, academic failure, and school disengagement; and

Whereas, education regarding LGBTQ issues increases understanding and cultivates respect for LGBTQ children and youth; and

Whereas, harassment and bullying policies that specifically mention sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are associated with: students feeling more safe; lower levels of bullying; decreased incidents of harassment related to sexual orientation; increased teacher/staff interventions; and a greater reporting of incidents; and

Whereas, Board Policy 5145.9 prohibits discrimination in its programs and activities based on gender or sexual orientation, among other characteristics; and

Whereas, the rainbow flag, also known as the LGBT pride flag, serves as a symbol of Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender pride and LGBT social movement; and

Whereas, flying the rainbow flag throughout the month of June further symbolizes the District’s celebration of diversity and support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Antioch Unified School District recognizes the month of June 2019 as LGBTQ Pride Month to inspire equity, create alliances, celebrate diversity, and establish a safe environment in our schools and community; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution be distributed to every school in the District.

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Antioch School Board votes to accept Rocketship’s responses to notices of violation

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Rocketship students cheer during the Antioch School Board meeting on Wed., May 22, 2019. Screenshot of televised meeting on YouTube.

Includes probationary period through next school year

By Allen Payton

At the Antioch School Board meeting on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 the trustees unanimously approved a resolution to conditionally accept Rocketship Delta Prep Charter School’s responses to the notices of violation over failure to provide proper financial reports and in a timely manner. Antioch USD-Resolution 2018-19-35 Conditionally Accept Responses to Notices of Violation

“It would bring to a close a process that started in February,” said the district’s attorney. “Although the responses provide explanations…they do acknowledge that violations occurred. It is our …which would keep the charter school open and treat the remainder of this school year and the 2019-2020 school year as a probation period, and require the charter school to comply with conditions in the resolution.”

Those conditions include that they “timely submit to the board all financial reports.”

According to the staff report, “On February 27, 2019, the Board of Education approved…a Notice of Violation for numerous violations including missing audit timelines required by the State Controller’s Office, and submitting an untimely audit containing findings that the Rocketship organization failed to meet generally accepted accounting principles, engaged in fiscal mismanagement, and inappropriately placed non-credentialed teachers in classrooms. Additionally, the Notice of Violation outlined concerns regarding AUSD’s inability to verify that teachers in RDP classrooms are appropriately credentialed.

On April 10, 2019, the Board approved Resolution 2018-19-26, which authorized the District to issue the Charter School a Second Notice of Violation for submitting a second interim budget report on March 15, 2019 that indicated the school would be insolvent and unable to meet its financial obligations for the next three years.

Rocketship responded timely to the Notices of Violation on April 1, 2019 and May 13, 2019 respectively. The responses acknowledge that several violations did in fact occur. However, the responses and supporting documentation also offer explanations as to how the violations have or will be remedied.  To ensure RDP follows through with their remedial plans and corrects their actions, the Administration recommends that the Board’s Acceptance of the Charter School’s responses to each Notice of Violation be conditioned on the Charter School’s compliance with specific requirements during a period of probation. These requirements include, but are not limited to, AUSD’s increased access and oversight of Special Education and English Learner programs, and amending the MOU requiring RDP to reimburse the District for the actual costs of staff time and resources to provide said oversight.”

Following public comments from AUSD teachers, parents of Rocketship students and some of the students, repeating many of the comments from both sides during previous meetings, the board took up the issue.

“I’ve said this all along, it’s an administrative issue and it sounds like it’s been worked out,” said Trustee Diane Gibson Gray. “I didn’t hear anything from Rocketship that they disagreed with the resolution. The resolution has been worked out between the two groups and I’m prepared to vote for the resolution.”

“I just wanted to take a moment to thank Stephanie Anello, the cabinet and staff, as well as the community and Rocketship for working so tirelessly on this topic,” said Trustee Ellie Householder. “I’m very comfortable with this outcome and I’m very hopeful for the future in just kind of building more collaborations. This tension has opened up a lot in our community for discussion, really difficult discussions, often times. I think we’re kind of crossing a bridge and we’re getting to a place where things are going to be a lot more collaborative, going forward.”

Trustee Mary Rocha was next to share her thoughts.

“I appreciate, and I’ve said it before, your parents are excellent. We weren’t here to go against what you’re doing with your children and your program. It’s the idea that we’re responsible and we had to follow through,” she said. “But, I also feel a little bit uncomfortable…having the thought that you talked about work together and collaboration…yet, after you talked with the superintendent, you went straight to the city council and denounced us as not working with you and that we didn’t want to be with you, at all. I don’t think that’s fair.”

“If we’re going to go forward, we can’t go against each other, and we can’t divide the city, with the school on one side and the city on the other. We need to work together for our children, not for us and our egos.”

“I toured the school prior to the last board meeting,” said Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White. “To have this choice aside from the district is a good thing. Because his particular school is addressing kids of color and they are reading at a certain grade level that’s quite impressive, based on what we’re hearing, here. What I observed is a brand new school that’s bringing something great to the city. I see parents in the classroom volunteering. That’s not happening in the public school sector, here. I am very impressed with Rocketship. So, I am in agreement with the resolution.”

“You know the reality is, this has never been about program at your school,” Board President Gary Hack stated. “This is about notices of violation of things you needed to do that you didn’t do in a timely manner. That’s your corporate leadership in many ways.”

The board voted 5-0 to approve the main resolution, and four supporting resolutions, ending the controversy that’s plagued both the Rocketship school in Antioch and the school board meetings over the past several months.

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Antioch School Board considers four alternatives for 2020 district election maps

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

By Allen Payton

At their regular meeting on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 the Antioch School Board was presented with four alternative maps for the district elections in November 2020. They take into consideration racial demographics, locations of the district schools, as well as the locations of the current residence of each of the five trustees. AUSD Trustee Area Scenarios Presentation 052219

Only Trustee Ellie Householder had suggestions for the consultant from Cooperative Strategies, asking that he return with another alternative combining Scenarios 1 and 2. No one from the public spoke on the matter.

A schedule for public input on the maps is as follows:

Tuesday, May 28 – Community Meeting on Trustee Area Scenarios at the District Office at 5 p.m.

Saturday, June 1 – Community Meeting on Trustee Area Scenarios at Black Diamond Middle School at 10 a.m.

Wednesday, June 12 – Board Meeting: Second Public Hearing on Trustee Area Scenarios

Wednesday, June 24 – Board Meeting: Final Public Hearing on Trustee Area Scenarios, Board Consideration of Map and Change in Election Method, Public Hearing on General Waiver Request, Board Consideration of General Waiver Request.

July/August – County Committee on School District Organization Holds a Public Hearing and Considers Approval of Change in Election Method and Trustee Area Map.

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Class of 2019 Baccalaureate for all Antioch high schools to be held Sunday, June 2 at Grace Bible Fellowship

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

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Antioch Unified School District 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year receives special visit

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Antioch Middle School sixth grade teacher and AUSD Teacher of the Year DarVisa Marshall with County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey during the visit on . Photo courtesy of CCCOE.

Recently, DarVisa Marshall’s six-grade classroom at Antioch Middle School received a visit from Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey. For the past five years, Marshall has been teaching English language arts, English language development, and history. Before joining Antioch Middle, the 21-year teacher had taught the same subjects to grades 3-8 in Oakland and her native city of Cincinnati. This past March, Marshall was named by the Antioch Unified School District as their Teacher of the Year (TOY), and later was selected as one of the four finalists contending for one of the two spots as Contra Costa County TOY. The two county TOYs will then represent Contra Costa County in the California state-wide TOY program.

Throughout the school year, Superintendent Mackey makes it a point to visit each incoming TOY in their classrooms, before they are all honored at the annual Teachers of the Year Gala Dinner. This is a great way for her to meet the teachers and their students, as well as take in the day’s lesson plan.

On the evening of September 26, 2019, the 22 Contra Costa County TOYs, class of 2019-20, including Marshall will be introduced and honored at the renowned annual Teacher of the Year Gala, held at the Hilton Concord. The 22 TOYs will be accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers. The expected crowd of close to 500 will also include numerous other supporters of the program. For more information about this year’s CCCOE TOY Program, please review this earlier-sent news release.

“This was my first year as a teacher,” says 8th grade English teacher Lorena Bathey. “I joined the world of eighth grade at Antioch Middle School and I was beyond nervous. My first day of teaching was a lesson for me in how not ready I was. I pushed the students out the door so they would not spy my weakness as the tears rolled down my face at the end of sixth period. To Ms. Marshall’s room I ran, no really… I ran, for help, saving a hug. And there was Ms. Marshall, with arms open saying, ‘How can I help you.’ This is a constant phrase from Ms. Marshall to everyone she knows.”

Bathey continues, “Beyond being an incredible teacher who has her student-centered classroom running so smoothly a clockmaker would be impressed, she is always striving to be more. From pursuing her National Board Certification, to being active with the Antioch Education Association, to serving as the school’s English chairperson, to mentoring a brand-new teacher like me, Ms. Marshall is all about helping Antioch Middle School.”

Currently, there are approximately 8,637 teachers educating nearly 178,000 students in Contra Costa County’s public schools. To recognize their efforts and bring much-deserved honor to the teaching profession, the participating school districts in the county named their TOY representatives in mid-March.

The incoming 22 TOYs represent 17 Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). Most of these representatives, those who teach grades TK-12, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The two top teachers in the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.

Note regarding eligible participants:

Each year, one instructor from Contra Costa Community College District is submitted to the TOY program for his/her outstanding body of work with their designated college. The colleges rotate each year between Diablo Valley, Los Medanos, and Contra Costa. (These instructors do not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition.) This year is Contra Costa College’s turn.

Due to the larger number of students and teachers in their districts, West Contra Costa USD, Mt. Diablo USD, and San Ramon Valley USD are allowed to submit two TOY candidates.

Follow Contra Costa County’s Teacher of the Year program on Twitter and Instagram: #cocotoy

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Antioch Middle School teacher one of four finalists for County Teacher of the Year

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

DarVisa Marshall, sixth grade teacher, Antioch Middle School. Photo by CCCOE.

The following four teachers have been named as the 2019-2020 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year (TOY) Finalists: Gina Capelli, Liberty Union High School District; Shay Kornfeld, Mt. Diablo Unified School District; DarVisa R. Marshall, Antioch Unified School District; and Maureen Mattson, Pittsburg Unified School District. Two of these four finalists will be chosen in late September, and will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program. See below for the entire listing of the 22 Contra Costa County TOYs, class of 2019-2020.

Like so many teachers, DarVisa Marshall was influenced by a special teacher in her life. For Marshall, it was in the 11th grade, back in Cincinnati, Ohio. “No matter the circumstances, Mrs. Bryant never gave up on me,” remembers Marshall. “She saw potential that I never saw and my parents didn’t understand. Because of her, I became a teacher.” For the past five years, Marshall has been teaching English language arts (ELA) and history to grade six, at Antioch Middle School, in Antioch. Her 21 years of experience also includes teaching ELA and history in middle and elementary schools in Oakland and Cincinnati.

With 27 years of education experience, Gina Capelli has been teaching at Liberty High School, in Brentwood, since 2002. Capelli’s courses include psychology, government, ethnic studies, and social studies. Capelli joined Liberty High School with an impressive resume of teaching experience with school districts in San Jose, Livermore, and Brentwood. “My most important contribution to my students is to model selflessness and the importance of school and community involvement,” says Capelli. “Living in a small, tight-knit community has helped me to participate in many community activities alongside my students.”

Science instructor and robotics club advisor, Shay Kornfield, has been teaching at Diablo View Middle School, in Clayton, for the past three years. Five years prior, Kornfield taught grades 4 and 5 at Fair Oaks Elementary School, in Pleasant Hill. Kornfield says that he was lucky enough to grow up in a loving household with educated parents and grandparents that fostered his sense of curiosity and adventure. “Then, I had a teacher, Glen Barker [2018 CCCOE Teacher of the Year], who made school feel like summer camp for the first time in my life,” remembers Kornfield. “Without these amazing people, perhaps I would not have chosen the career path I have – but choose it I did, and what an amazing ride thus far!”

Maureen Mattson has been a positive fixture for the past 33 years at Pittsburg High School. The honored teacher has been teaching physical education during her entire career at the school. Along with teaching physical education, she has served many other rolls, including the school’s women’s basketball coach, assistant principal, and assistant athletic director. “My biggest influence in becoming a teacher was my father, Bob Matson,” reflects Mattson. “He was a physical education teacher, department chair, athletic director, and coach of multiple sports at Hollister High School for 38 years.”

The county’s TOY program is directed by the CCCOE, and with such a high caliber of teaching professionals to draw from (18 teachers eligible this year), the CCCOE’s TOY program uses a three-stage selection process, with a point and percentage system to determine the final candidates as follows:

I Application Screening:

On April 12, a committee of 13 judges, representing the county’s education, business, and public-sector partners carefully reviewed the TOY representative applications submitted by the school districts. This committee independently read and rated each application. After the application screening and scoring are completed, four teachers (see above) will be selected to advance to the next two phases as finalists.

II Classroom Observation and Interview:

April 22-May 17, a small committee of education specialists and business partners will observe the four finalists interacting with their students. Immediately following, the committee will interview the candidates, discussing topics such as their teaching philosophy and techniques.

III Speech Presentation:

On July 24, the four TOY finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to another panel of a dozen educators, business, and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.

On the evening of September 26, 2019, all 22 TOYs, accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers (an audience of close to 500) will be honored at the annual Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Hilton Concord. Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey, who serves as the evening’s master of ceremonies, will introduce all 22 TOYs to the attendees. This will be followed by the four finalists giving their three- to five-minute speeches (same speeches given in July) to the filled banquet room. Finally, the night will come to a dramatic conclusion with the announcement of the two 2019-2020 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.

2019-2020 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Representatives:

  • Paul Verbanszky, Acalanes Union High School District, Campolindo High School
  • DarVisa R. Marshall, Antioch Unified School District, Antioch Middle School
  • Ezra Smith, Brentwood Union School District, Pioneer Elem/Loma Vista Elem
  • Alicia Woodson, Byron Union School District, Discovery Bay Elementary
  • Cheri Etheredge, Contra Costa Community College District, Contra Costa Community College
  • Kevin McKibben, Contra Costa County Office of Education, Mt. McKinley School
  • Nagia “GG” Abdu, John Swett Unified School District, John Swett High School
  • Katy Bracelin, Knightsen Elementary School District, Knightsen Elementary School
  • Cindy Fisher, Lafayette School District, Happy Valley Elementary School
  • Gina Capelli, Liberty Union High School District, Liberty High School
  • Pamuela Galletti, Martinez Unified School District, John Muir Elementary School
  • Jennifer Strohmeyer, Moraga School District, Donald L. Rheem Elementary School
  • Emily Andrews, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Bancroft Elementary School
  • Shay Kornfeld, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Diablo View Middle School
  • Maria Fernandez, Oakley Union Elementary School District, Oakley Elementary School
  • Jennifer Dodd, Orinda Union School District, Del Rey Elementary School
  • Maureen Mattson, Pittsburg Unified School District, Pittsburg High School
  • Athena Agustin, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Dougherty Valley High School
  • Nusheen Saadat, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Quail Run Elementary School
  • Jana Palmquist, Walnut Creek School District, Walnut Creek Intermediate School
  • Daniel O’Shea, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Pinole Valley High School
  • Doug Silva, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Helms Middle School

Note regarding eligible participants:

Seventeen of the eighteen Contra Costa County school districts represented, and the CCCOE are participating in this year’s TOY program.

Each year, one instructor from Contra Costa Community College District is submitted to the TOY program for his/her outstanding body of work with their designated college. The colleges rotate each year between Diablo Valley, Los Medanos, and Contra Costa. (These instructors do not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition.) This year is Contra Costa College’s turn.

Due to the larger number of students and teachers in their districts, West Contra Costa USD, Mt. Diablo USD, and San Ramon Valley USD are allowed to submit two TOY candidates.

Follow Contra Costa County’s Teacher of the Year program on Twitter and Instagram at: #cocotoy

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OP-ED: Antioch School District won’t win back parent trust by avoiding hard truths

Monday, May 6th, 2019

by Sandra Torres

There has been a lot of talk about funding for education lately, and very little attention paid to student performance. I’m a parent. And I love the public school my daughter attends in Antioch. But our elected officials don’t seem to care that my second grader started this year reading at a Kindergarten level and is now reading like a third grader. They don’t seem remotely interested to learn about what our school is doing right. They just want to talk about money.

The Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) is facing a $4M budget deficit. At a recent board meeting, the AUSD leadership pinned the reason for its deficit on charter school enrollment. “It’s not scapegoating, it’s math — that’s how we get our revenues,” Superintendent Stephanie Anello stated.

Actually, if you do the math, it is scapegoating.

AUSD has been steadily losing students for years. Each student that chooses another educational option means that money goes with them. But Antioch students aren’t fleeing to charter schools.

Student enrollment in Antioch District schools is down by nearly 2,000 students since 2010 – from 19,081 to 17,232 students last school year. Over that same time, charter school enrollment in Antioch has consistently hovered between 400 – 500 students.

It’s no secret that Antioch families are transferring their kids to other school districts. In nearby Pittsburg Unified, student enrollment has increased by over 1,500 since 2010. Antioch families are also increasingly choosing private schools and electing to homeschool their children.

I am one of those parents who chose a different public school for my daughter. I chose Rocketship Delta Prep. And it was the best choice I have ever made.

I think it’s time for District leadership to take an honest look at why parents like me refuse to send their kids to AUSD schools.

Only about one in three AUSD students are meeting grade level standards in English, and less than one in five students are meeting math standards. Among low-income students, which accounts for 67% of AUSD enrollment, only one in four students are proficient in English and only one in seven are on track in math. Three AUSD elementary schools are listed among the worst 5% of all schools in the entire state.

Despite these glaring challenges, AUSD leadership is bizarrely wasting their time and taxpayer dollars on attorneys trying to invent a case to shut down my daughter’s school. Rocketship Delta Prep just opened this school year. We love our school.  If you came to one of three recent AUSD board meetings, you’d see over 300 Rocketship parents, including myself, asking AUSD leadership to show our kids, our school, and our community the respect we deserve.

When’s the last time you heard about hundreds of parents from an underserved community attend a school boarding meeting to demonstrate their love and support for their school? As AUSD board member Mary Rocha remarked during the April 10th school board meeting “I wish we had this parent support and spirit at our schools.”

If AUSD wants this kind of parent support, leadership needs to start confronting the real problems facing our students and our community. The AUSD board has held 16 public board meetings this school year and only one single agenda item has addressed the serious problems facing the District like poor academic performance, the racial achievement gap, chronic absenteeism, discriminatory discipline, or college and career readiness.

I hope to see the board start addressing these real issues at their next meeting. Honest discussion and progress on any one of these issues might help AUSD start winning back the trust of Antioch families.

Torres is a parent of a student attending Rocketship Delta Prep charter school in Antioch.

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Accepted by 10 colleges, Dozier-Libbey senior and salutatorian chooses Princeton

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Aliha Mughal

By Allen Payton

Dozier-Libbey Medical High School senior Aliha Mughal, has been accepted to attend Princeton University and nine other colleges, next fall to study biology and pre-med.

Aliha has earned a 4.1984 weighted GPA (3.9008 unweighted) and was named Salutatorian for Dozier-Libbey Medical High School’s class of 2019. She is the daughter of Tabarak Mughal and Synary Be of Antioch.

She applied to a total of 13 schools and was accepted to 10, including San Jose State, CSU Long Beach, San Francisco State, San Diego State, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley, University of Southern California, and Princeton.

Different schools have different majors, Aliha explained. She has applied for molecular biology, cell biology or micro-biology depending on the school, all on a pre-med track.

At school, she is involved in HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America), Key Club, Leadership, and serves as an AVID (Advanced Via Individual Determination) tutor. Aliha currently serves as Senior Class Representative for HOSA and Senior Class Co-President for Leadership. She previously served as Junior Class Vice President and Recognition Commissioner for Leadership, as well.

Aliha has also volunteered to help collect and sort recycling for the school during her sophomore and junior years. Outside of school, she was a member of Deer Valley High School’s Colorguard and Winterguard teams during her junior year and was one of USC’s Bovard Scholars.

Her goal is to become a doctor, “specifically an oncologist,” Aliha said.

When asked why medicine, Aliha said, “There are two components to it. I have a genuine interest in science, especially the molecular, smaller scale things. That’s what leads me toward cancer. I’m specifically interested in immunotherapy.”

“I’ve also had family members who’ve had cancer, so there’s a personal aspect to it,” she explained. “So, it’s the combination of the two.”

As of last week, Aliha hadn’t visited all of the schools she was considering

“Right now, I’m leaning toward Princeton,” she said, during an interview, last week. “I was considering U.C. Berkeley and USC.”

Aliha then visited USC, last Saturday, April 27.

The deadline for her decision was May 1st. In an email to the Herald, yesterday afternoon, Aliha wrote, “I just wanted to update you on my final college decision. I have decided to attend Princeton University.”

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