Complaint Spurs Bay Area District to Provide Parents with More Timely Accountability Data

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West Contra Costa Unified community members lobby school board to release accountability data. - THERESA HARRINGTON FOR EDSOURCE
  • Theresa Harrington for EdSource
  • West Contra Costa Unified community members lobby school board to release accountability data.

The West Contra Costa school district, in response to a complaint, has agreed to provide data by November on student performance and spending to parents who help create its annual accountability plan.

The district agreed to settle a complaint filed last April on behalf of two parents and a student by Public Advocates, Inc. and pro bono counsel Mayer Brown LLP. The district includes Richmond and surrounding communities.

Parent Wendy Lopez, one of the complainants, said she is excited to know that the district will give her committee the data it needs to help create the next accountability plan months earlier than it did for the 2018-19 plan.

YUXUAN XIE
  • Yuxuan Xie
“It was like we finally achieved something,” she said. “Now, we’ll be able to work with the right tools and with the right data.”

District spokesman Marcus Walton said West Contra Costa Unified is working closely with the community to improve its process for creating and updating its accountability plan.

“This settlement reaffirms our commitment to provide data to our parents so they can make informed decisions about the education their children receive,” he said.

The complaint came after updated information crucial to evaluating how effective the district had been at meeting its annual accountability goals was not released — after several requests — to a committee working on its 2018-19 Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP.

Districts are legally required to adopt these plans annually, laying out specific goals for students and schools and showing how they will spend state funds to achieve them. The requirement is part of the California’s Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, which gives school districts greater authority over the use of state funds and gives them extra money to educate low-income students, English learners, foster youth and homeless children.

According to the settlement agreement signed July 20 by district Superintendent Matthew Duffy, the district will report available data in its draft accountability plan before the school board approves it in June. All data for the prior school year will be reported to the community by November.

“We are pushing for the community to have more time to review information,” said Hans Moore, senior staff attorney for Public Advocates. “The reflection process the community needs to go through was delayed by some time.”

The district distributed updated data to the committee of parents and students working on the accountability plan in early May, just weeks before the draft was completed, Moore said.

If the district delays its reporting of information about whether it is meeting its goals, the community is unable to hold it accountable, he said.

This story was originally published by EdSource.org.

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