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    Drummond: School district has plans for charter and fighting fentanyl
    • October 26, 2023

    Several noteworthy actions by officials in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District regarding charter school proposals and fentanyl crisis awareness merit attention this week.

    Superintendent Alex Cherniss and school board Trustee Leandra Blades spoke in opposition to the charter school petition by the California Republic Leadership Academy Yorba Linda at a public hearing before the Orange County Board of Education on Oct.4.

    The county board is considering an appeal of the Placentia-Yorba Linda district’s denial of a petition to operate a kindergarten through eighth grade charter school in the district on a 5-0 vote at a meeting in August.

    According to the county board’s 20-page policy on charter schools, the five county trustees have 30 days from the public hearing to grant or deny the petition, unless trustees and petitioner agree to extend the time period for another 30 days.

    The next two county board meetings are Nov. 1 and Dec. 6 at the education department office in Costa Mesa. If the county’s board does not grant or deny the petition during that time period, the petitioner can appeal to the state board of education.

    Speaking in support of the appeal were the charter’s Executive Director Gary Davis and several parents who hope to send their children to the charter school, which plans to provide a “classical leadership education.”

    Previously, county trustees approved a California Republic Leadership Academy charter in the Capistrano Unified School District for kindergarten through eighth grade students that planned a “curriculum, culture and purpose based on the classical liberal arts tradition.”

    Cherniss and Blades told county trustees the California Republic charter plan was “not right” for district students and the district plans a “better option” charter with an Orange County School of Computer Science.

    The Placentia-Yorba Linda district’s “better option” is expected to be approved soon, perhaps at a Nov. 14 meeting. A public hearing to gauge support for the charter was held Oct. 10, with the presentation of an 83-page petition by Bernardo Yorba Middle School Principal Beth Fisher.

    The petition proposes an in-depth computer science program for up to 1,000 seventh- and eighth-grade students that will start on Aug. 27 for the 2024-25 school year for an initial five-year period.

    Cherniss addressed the fentanyl crisis in a recent online message saying that the district is taking “immediate proactive measures to make sure our kids do not fall victim to this dangerous drug that has infested our communities.”

    In addition to “red ribbon” assemblies for high school students, the district plans presentations to parents and families through the Parent University program, led by Placentia police officers and county sheriff’s deputies.

    And doses of Narcan, which can reverse opioid overdoses, are available at all school sites, with more than 250 employees trained in administration.

    Jim Drummond is a longtime Yorba Linda resident. He gives his opinion on local issues weekly. Send e-mail to [email protected].

    ​ Orange County Register