News Briefs | FYI
February 12, 2024
New law changes redistricting process for school boards
A new law effective Jan. 1, 2024 has significantly changed the redistricting processes for educational agencies, according to a recent client news brief from the law firm Lozano Smith.
In 2019, the California Legislature adopted the FAIR MAPS Act, which created strict procedures that cities and counties must follow when redrawing their election district boundaries. Assembly Bill 764 expands the FAIR MAPS Act to now also apply to school districts, community college districts, special districts and county boards of education. AB 764 also creates strict guidelines that local agencies must follow when either transitioning from at-large to by-trustee area elections or redrawing existing trustee area boundaries.
The provisions of AB 764 significantly change the redistricting processes under the California Voting Rights Act and extend certain requirements to educational agencies that had previously been exempt from the FAIR MAPS Act. Moving forward, the process will include many additional steps before, during and after the redistricting process. Additionally, local boards no longer have flexibility as to map drawing criteria and instead are required to follow the statutory criteria. Finally, the process will be different depending on the size of the jurisdiction, so care must be taken to ensure the process applicable to the size of your jurisdiction is followed.
Read a detailed review of the key provisions of the new law.
10 school districts chosen to be part of REACH Network
Ten California school districts have been awarded $25,000 each to reduce school suspensions through a new statewide network.
In January, the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools and UC Berkeley School of Education announced the 10 district grantees that were accepted into the initial cohort of the REACH (Race, Education, and Community Healing) Network as part of California’s new state law banning willful defiance suspensions, which was authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October.
The REACH Network represents a geographically diverse set of school districts that will work to lower suspension rates, prevent punitive practices and to generate recommendations to expand the efforts across schools statewide.
The awardees include:
  • Claremont Unified School District (Los Angeles County).
  • Crete Academy (Los Angeles County).
  • East Side Union High School District (Santa Clara County).
  • Hayward Unified School District (Alameda County).
  • Kings County Office of Education (Kings County).
  • La Mesa-Spring Valley School District (San Diego County).
  • Leadership Public Schools (Contra Costa County).
  • Para Los Niños Charter Middle School (Los Angeles County).
  • Vista Unified School District (San Diego County).
  • Washington Unified School District (Sacramento County).
In 2023, California’s Legislature awarded $1 million over three years to the newly created REACH Network, led by the UC Berkeley School of Education and UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools, to create alternatives to suspensions and establish public schools as hubs for racial and community healing.
The REACH Network will work across California with public and charter schools, local education agencies, community-based organizations, and universities to reduce suspensions that disproportionately affect historically marginalized students in grades TK-12.
REACH grants will allow for school sites and districts to test out innovative models that promote positive relationships, healthy learning conditions, and center on evidence-based alternatives to punitive practices and policies in schools.
“We received over 30 strong applications for this initial phase of the REACH Network. We selected a diverse group of applicants based on geography, student characteristics, grade level and focus,” said Joseph Bishop, executive director and co-founder of UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools. “We were excited by the range of innovative plans presented in the proposals, and we look forward to beginning this critical work.”
Bill would require computer science courses in high school
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) have unveiled legislation to expand access to computer science education in California by requiring that all public high schools in California offer at least one computer science education course.
Assembly Bill 2097 also establishes computer science as a high school graduation requirement by the 2030–31 school year.
“It is necessary that we equip our young people with the essential skills needed to thrive in the careers of today and tomorrow,” said Thurmond, in a news release. “Our state has long been the home of some of the greatest technology founders and innovators, and all of our students should be empowered to contribute to and benefit from that success. Computer science is foundational and imperative for all of our students to become productive, responsible digital citizens in a global society.”
Despite being the undisputed cradle of innovation, California has for too long failed to offer students from all backgrounds access to computer science courses, falling well behind 40 states and leaving a growing equity gap.
As of January 2023, California has 45,245 open computing jobs that have an average salary of $153,544, yet there were only 9,339 graduates in computer science in 2020.
“It is critical to equip our students with the skills they need to enter the twenty-first century workforce and succeed in our digitally driven world,” said Berman, in a news release. “Computer science skills are needed in many career fields, from science and technology to agriculture, entertainment, fashion, banking, marketing and beyond. We owe it to our students to teach them the fundamental skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s economy — and that starts with having access to a computer science education.”
According to the release, 27 other states currently require high schools to offer a computer science course, with five of those states requiring a computer science course for graduation. Fifty-five percent of high schools in California do not offer a single course in computer science.
CTC seeks nominations for committee on accreditation
Nominations are being accepted for one TK-12 and one institution of higher education to join the Committee on Accreditation. Prospective members must submit application materials by Feb. 28, 2024. Submit applications to accreditation@ctc.ca.gov. A nominations panel screens the applications and determines the finalists. Visit www.ctc.ca.gov/educator-prep/coa-about for application materials.
Directing Change film contest entries due March 1
The Directing Change Program and Film Contest, sponsored by the California Mental Health Services Authority, is a statewide program that invites California students from grades six through 12 to create 60-second films about suicide prevention, mental health and other health-related topics to support awareness, education and advocacy. Film submissions are due by Friday, March 1. For more information, including resources to support your school’s prevention efforts and how to submit, visit the Directing Change website at directingchangeca.org.
CAAPLE conference coming to Newport Beach
“Building and Belonging Leadership: Leveraging Our Cultural Strengths for System Change” is the theme for the California Association of Asian & Pacific Leaders in Education (CAAPLE) annual conference in Newport Beach from April 19-21. All ACSA members are invited to engage in professional networking, explore opportunities for career development, hear from inspiring keynote speakers, and attend exciting workshops and breakout sessions centered around the conference theme. For more information, please visit www.bit.ly/caapleconference.