HomeCommunity NewsKleinrock Fires Back at “Misinformation” During Board Meeting

Kleinrock Fires Back at “Misinformation” During Board Meeting

WELCOME ABOARD: The San Marino School Board welcomed new members of the Academics Advisory Committee. Left to right, Board Members Joseph Chang, Lisa Link and Chris Norgaard; AAC members Michiko Lee, Emily Vitan, Alison Moller, Merrily Dunlap and Jennifer Chuang; Board President Shelley Ryan and Interim Superintendent Loren Kleinrock. Mitch Lehman Photos

The final entry on a typical agenda for one of the San Marino Unified School District’s meetings of its governing board is entitled Board-Superintendent Discussion Items, and Tuesday night it may have provided the most fodder for discussion.

Because it was then, at about 9:10 p.m., when interim Superintendent Loren Kleinrock took exception with what he perceives as “misinformation” that has been circulated during the current race for three open school board seats.

“School safety,” Kleinrock thundered. “I don’t know of any administrator anywhere who doesn’t say the main goal is getting kids to school in the morning and getting them back home at night safely. I am hearing that we have not been talking about safety for a long time. That is not the way it is.”

Kleinrock, who has worked in the SMUSD since 1975 as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent, cited the district’s outfitting each campus with real-time security cameras and other amenities, including window coverings, blinds and interior locks for classrooms, emergency backpacks and defibrillators and a comprehensive emergency management system.

“We were also the first school in the San Gabriel Valley to hold an active shooter drill,” Kleinrock said, estimating that the event took place prior to 2010. “Even back then, we were taking this seriously.”

San Marino High School Principal Dr. Issaic Gates and Assistant Principal Soomin Chao.

Kleinrockalsotoutedthesafetycommitteesthatareineffectateachschoolsiteandtheextensivetrainingregimenthatisfollowedbyalldistrictemployees.

“But this concept that we are just starting to work on safety, that is not true,” he said.

Kleinrock also addressed the subject of inter-district transfers, which has frequently been brought up in the community.

“I would like to set this straight,” Kleinrock said at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Kleinrock pointed out that the SMUSD would lose $5.1 million if inter-district transfers were refused, based on the state’s method of school funding.

Kleinrock also addressed what he called “a misperception” that the families of inter-district transfers do not support the San Marino Schools Foundation. “Generally, many of the parents whose children who come in are contributing financially and in many other ways,” Kleinrock said. He continued, “A significant percentage of those on permit contribute to the San Marino Schools Foundation. A large percentage of inter-district students are children of SMUSD staff, city workers, people who own businesses in the community, or people who are employed within the city. They have a connection with San Marino that goes beyond the schools.”

He also commented on a notion that the district is “losing a lot of kids to private schools.”

“I don’t have any hard data on that, but we know anecdotally that we also get kids back from private schools,” Kleinrock said. He also cited figures that said if one tracks a cohort of students moving from one grade level to the next, the most current data shows that there are four grade levels where the SMUSD loses students, but seven grade levels which actually show gains. There has been a net gain of 35 students.

Kleinrock took issue with public statements that San Marino High School is falling behind in the area of college admissions.

“San Marino has the highest rate of UC admissions among similar schools,” Kleinrock said. He also mentioned that San Marino is competitive among what he called “selective colleges.”

He did acknowledge that a new UC policy which declares that 40% of all freshman admissions are to be first-time collegians among their family, financially disadvantaged or a minority actually works against the district.

“Asians are not currently counted as minorities,” Kleinrock said. “They are a minority, but for college admissions purposes they are not.

[Colleges] are looking for diversity. They will not take a lot of students from a certain area and they will not take a lot from a single school. Since the San Gabriel Valley is the richest area in the country for the recruitment of Asian students, our students face a higher admissions bar than in many places.”

Kleinrock, who was appointed interim superintendent in September when Dr. Alex Cherniss accepted the superintendent job at the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District, told The Tribune on Wednesday morning that he was displeased with information that has been circulated through the city, especially during the school board campaign season.

“I was here before and what I am hearing about the district now is not what I knew before,” Kleinrock said. “It prompted me to do a little research. I need to talk about the facts as I have researched them. I don’t think that people are deliberately putting out wrong information, but it’s wrong information nevertheless.”

He also said that Tuesday’s statements were “just the tip of the iceberg” and he is considering other avenues to express the sentiments of the school board.

Board Vice President Lisa Link voiced her support of Kleinrock.

“Thank you for addressing some of these rumors and false statements,” Link said. “In the past, this board has not responded and just hoped that people figured out on their own what is right. This community is hearing false information and this ‘sky is falling’ is damaging to the community. We need to address how we handle false information. Maybe we set aside some time at each meeting to address false information.”

Link encouraged Board President Shelley Ryan to put the topic on a future agenda and also addressed the issue of inter-district transfers.

“I want to reassure the community that the District considers all of its students part of the family, regardless of where they live,” Link said.

Earlier in the meeting, the board approved Resolution 10, which will put on the ballot the renewal of a six-year parcel tax that will bring the SMUSD $1.6 million annually. The board unanimously approved there solution by a 4-0 vote, with Board Member Nam Jack absent. The renewal of the parcel tax will be placed before voters on February 26, 2019.

The board also passed a series of updated board policies, including positive school climate, safety, parental notification and married/pregnant students.

Four new members of the district’s Academics Advisory Committee were also introduced. Jennifer Chuang, Merrily Dunlap, Alison Moller and Emily Vitan volunteered for the group and will replace Daphne Liu, Ananth Natarajan and Cesar Larriva.

San Marino High School Principal Dr. Issaic Gates and Assistant Principal Dr.S oomin Chao also provided an update on the school’s wellness initiative, research into CTE Pathways, access to AP and Honors classes and campus safety.

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