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Office for Civil Rights Complaint Against Lomitas Elementary

Original Complaint Against Lomitas Elementary School
Filed With the US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights

(As a result of this complaint both Lomitas Elementary School and the Victor Elementary School District were found in violation of numerous civil rights laws.)

The following information contains much of the original material sent the US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. Even this limited information should provide a horrifying glimpse at what the US Dept. of Education now considers to be a "model school." This is the complete document originally sent to OCR. As a result, it contains some information that may not be relevant to the reader. In order to protect the privacy of the teacher who filed this complaint against Lomitas, information has been redacted as noted through the use of "*".

It also needs to be noted that both Lomitas Elementary School and the Victor Elementary School District were found to be guilty of retaliation against this teacher and was subjected to additional significant actions against them by the Office for Civil Rights.


(This form is not required to file a complaint with OCR. However, the information requested in items 1-5 must be provided for all complaints, whether or not the form is used.)

1. Name of person filing this complaint:

NAME: (Mr./Ms.) ****************
ADDRESS: ************
CITY & STATE ************, CA (ZIP)*****
PHONE NO. (***) ***-****

2. Name of person discriminated against (if other than person filing):

NAME (Mr./Ms.): The Children of Lomitas Elementary School/Victor Elementary School Dist.
ADDRESS: *******************
CITY & STATE: Victorville, CA 92692 (ZIP)
PHONE NO. HOME (***) ***-**** WORK (***) ***-****

3. OCR investigates discrimination complaints against institutions and agencies which receive funds from the U.S. Department of Education. Please identify the institution or agency that discriminated against you. If OCR cannot take your complaint, it may refer it to the appropriate agency.

NAME (Mr./Ms.) Denise Edge, Principal
ADDRESS: 12571 First Avenue
CITY & STATE/ZIP Victorville, CA
DEPT OR SCHOOL Lomitas Elementary School/Victor Elementary School District

4. The laws OCT enforces prohibit discrimination because of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age. Please indicate whether the complaint addresses student services or employment (or both) and complete the appropriate catagory(ies) under basis:
BASIS (Check one or more and specify for each item checked.)

Grounds on which you feel you were discriminated against:

X Student Services X Race/Color Tracking
_ National Origin_________________________
X Sex Tracking
X Disability Tracking

5. What is the most recent date you (the children) were discriminated against?

This has been an ongoing problem since September 1994.

6. If this date is more than 180-days ago, please explain why you waited until now to file your complaint.

Not applicable.

7. When did the alleged discrimination begin?

September 1994

8. When and in what way did you first become aware that the treatment, act, or decision was discriminatory.

The problem with the multi-age program first surfaced in May 1994 (approx.). At that time, the students who were "accepted" into the program were sent certificates which congratulated them on their successful application. None of the other children, in the regular programs received such congratulations on their passage into the next grade. At that time, I refused to send these notices home because it was clear that only the highest functioning students from my class had been accepted into the multi-age program. I also complained that the other children did not receive any kind of certificate
congratulating them on their progress that year. When I stated my objections, I was asked to return the certificates and I believe that these were then mailed to the families selected to participate. That was the first time that I had heard that tracking was not part of the selection process because parents were "given a chance to enroll their children in the program." (Only the more affluent parents were able to [or chose to] attend the orientation meeting and agreed to contribute time, on a regular basis, in the classroom that is required by the program.)

9. Have you tried to resolve your complaint with the institution through an internal grievance procedure?

YES_____ NO X

If you answered yes, please give OCR the name of the grievance procedure, and tell OCR the status of your complaint at this time.

Information has been provided, on a couple of occasions, to the Victor Elementary Teachers' Association.

10. The laws OCR enforces prohibit institutions receiving Department of Education fund from retaliating, harassing, or intimidating persons for taking action or participating in an action to secure rights protected by Title VI, Title IX, Section 504, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the Age Discrimination Act. If you feel that you have been harassed, intimidated or retaliated against please explain how and when this took place in your statement. Be sure to explain what action you took on your own behalf, or for someone else, to protect yourself or others from discrimination on the bases of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age, and describe how and when the institution learned or your action.

I have complained, on numerous occasions, to Denis Edge, Lomitas Elementary School principal and to the ************ Teachers' Association.

11. In your own words, describe what happened, when it happened, and who was responsible. (Attach additional pages
if necessary.)

This problem first began in Spring 1994 when the multi-age program was first mentioned to the staff at Lomitas Elementary School. At that time, two teachers, ***** ********** and ***** ********** announced that they wanted to try out a "new program" and that would begin with the 1994-1995 school year. This program would allow the creation of two primary grade, multi-age classrooms, each of which would contain children from grades 1, 2, and 3. It was also announced that these classes would not contain a select group of students but would be representative of the 'typical" classroom at our school. Contrary to this statement, every indication that these classes were going to be different was obvious from the very beginning (see above). Although I have made numerous complaints to my school principal that these
classes are extremely different than others at our school, and that my class, in particular, has been loaded with many students that exhibit significant learning and behavior problems, especially when compared with the other classes (both the multi-age and traditional classes), my comments have been discounted and simply ignored. I have attached copies of materials, on pages 10-13, which I submitted to the Victor Elementary Teachers Association last year concerning some of the gross inequities between the makeup of my class and other classes. The materials from 1994-1995 should provide clear indication that classes were not evenly divided and that serious problems exist.

It is also rather disturbing to point out that there appears to be motivation for placing students in certain classes. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that the multi-age classrooms have been used to segregate the children of school employees from others with special needs. (See page 9) As the chart will indicate, at least six certificated employees have placed their children in these classes since September 1994. Several classified employees also have children in these classes but I do not have complete information on these. It is my understanding that at least one other certificated Lomitas employee has enrolled his child in these multi-age classes for the 1996-1997 school year. Information on pages 14-16 highlights some of the differences between the class I received this year and other classes at my school. This material should help demonstrate that, once again, significant differences exist. These differences are so extreme that, due to the serious problems that exist in some classrooms, many children are being denied an opportunity to learn to their fullest extent. Not mentioned here (complete figures are not available to me) are differences in student mobility, boy/girl ratio, socio-economic status, and family/home life issues.

Perhaps the most disturbing of all, is the fact that numerous students have been placed into some classrooms in an effort to keep them out of the multi-age classes and then help is denied to these students. In addition, these students' problems are so severe that they interrupt the learning environment to such as extent that they prevent other students from learning as well.

"Student 1" - The worst case involves a seven year old Hispanic boy who was placed in my classroom (He has attended school in our district since Nov. 1, 1993). This child had been retained once in Kindergarten and Student Study Teams have been held for him on Feb. 17, 1994, Mar. 24, 1994, and Dec. 15, 1994. He also visited our district's "assessment center," on Oct 12, 1994, which clearly indicated that this child was having difficulties. Absolutely nothing tangible has been done to
assist this child until this year.

His behavior was so bizarre, from the very beginning of the year, that I had our school psychologist observe him during the first week of school. During this observation, the child wandered around the classroom and made animal noises. Another SST was held on Feb. 29, 1996, at which time it was decided to formally assess this student (because his early life experiences were so horrible). This child was evaluated and an IEP meeting was held on April 19, 1996. At this time it was discussed that this child is believed to be severely emotionally disturbed, is mentally retarded (has an IQ of 55), and also
appears to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). He was to be placed in a special day class (SDC) class beginning Monday, April 22, 1996. I was told, privately, that SDC was probably too restrictive for this child because he had so many problems and that he would probably be placed in a severely emotionally disturbed class (SED) in the near future.

Because this child is supposed to move over the summer, it is assumed that this would not occur until the beginning of next year. (I can't help but wonder if this was the real motivation for finally doing a formal assessment on this child.) It is my understanding that this child only attended the SDC class for three full days of school. (This class has nine students, a full-time teacher, and two full-time instructional aides.) Because his behavior was so disruptive in this class, the child was suspended
(see page 17) with several conditions attached. To make matters even worse, the child never returned to school and it is my understanding that he was placed on a "home study" contract. This is particularly disturbing because his home life has been described as being one of the "most dysfunctional families" that had ever been observed by our school psychologist. The school principal has never discussed this with me. There are many, many more children in my classroom who also exhibit significant and severe problems. These children also receive little or no assistance from the school. Some of these children include:

"Student 2" - Student 2 first enrolled in school last November. This child has had no previous school experiences and has exhibited significant academic and behavior problems. Because this child's mother has canceled two SST meetings, at the last minute, nothing has been done for this child. The mother told me, a few days ago, that she is aware that her child has problems and plans to enroll him in a "military school" next year for his behavior and that he will have "psychological testing" done there.
"Student 3" - This child enrolled in our classroom on April 9, 1996. A memo, dated April 24, 1996 states, "** was receiving speech and counseling services at Lomitas in 94-95. Also receiving speech 60 min/week at last school." This child still has not received any services at our school this year and, with less than three weeks remaining, it is unlikely to occur now.

"Student 4" - This child enrolled last October. The eldest of four children, this child had been placed in a foster home because all of the children in the family had been molested by the biological father and the mother is a drug addict. Nothing has been done for this child.

"Student 5" - Two SSTs have been scheduled for this child but the mother has failed to show up for them. This child appears to performing significantly below grade level. Speech services (obtained last year) are provided but nothing else.

"Student 6" - This child's previous two teachers (from other school districts) have indicated an ongoing behavior problem. A nurse, from the previous school, stated that she believes this is an ADHD child. Other than an SST, nothing has been done for this child.

"Student 7" - An SST on this child, in April, revealed that this child wants to "kill herself", deliberately urinates and defecates on the floor at home , and recently tore the head off of a bird and sprayed the blood everywhere. Her biological mother is a drug addict/prostitute who suffers from manic depression and paranoid schizophrenia. An informal observation was supposed to have been done on her but no one has yet done this.

These are just a few samples of the students that have been placed in my classroom. These types of students are essentially excluded from the multi-age classrooms. Sadly, the situations discussed here are merely the "tip of the iceberg" - there are numerous additional problems evident.

Perhaps the most revealing indication that tracking is occurring may be found in two statements recently published in our staff bulletin and school newsletter.

Our April 17, 1996 staff bulletin states:

"Please remember that we do not take requests for teachers for the new school year. Information regarding class placement will be also noted in the newsletter. Parents are asked to discuss any concerns that they have with this year's teacher so that
such information can be noted on the pinks and blues (forms used to "create" next year's classes). Concerns such as combination classes, conflicts/personality problems with another student can be noted on the bottom. I (the principal) approach this individually with parents by saying:

  1. We have a top-notch staff and any placement will be a good one.
  2. We have to load classes using certain criteria (boy/girl ratio, heterogeneous classes, RSP limits, etc.) which limits granting requests. (The information provided in this complaint should demonstrate that this simply is not true.)
  3. Combination classes are part of Calif. public schools and we will have them next year. If a parent has a concern or is in a combo this year, please note this on the pink or blue."

In contrast to these statements, the following was sent to all school parents in our April 30, 1996 newsletter:

"Class assignments for September are a team effort done with great care. This initial class lists are drawn up by current Lomitas teachers and are reviewed by the receiving teachers and specialists to ensure that we have not overlooked any aspect of an appropriate placement. We, as professionals, feel that we keep the best interest of children in our minds as we look at appropriate placements. You, as parents, have the best knowledge about your child and may wish to share some of this information with your child's current teacher before we do class placements. This information will be noted on the child's placement sheet and will help us in making placement decisions. Please contact your child's teacher if you are interested in doing so."

In other words, parents are allowed to pick their child's classroom.

Parent's of Certificated VESD Employees with Children in Multi-age Classes

Multi-age Teacher Student's Parent Parent's Position at School/District Other
********** **** ******   * This child is the niece of Principal Denise Edge
********** **** ****** Kindergarten Teacher  
********** ***** ***** Multi-age Teacher  
********** **** ****** 3rd Grade Teacher  
********** **** ****** VESD Personnel Director  
********** **** ****** 6th Grade Teacher  

Metropolitan Readiness Test

Average 1993/94 Kindergarten Test Scores - Percentiles

Chart of Metropolitan Readiness Test Scores (Actual scores listed below."

  Reading Mathematics Language
************ 70% 55% 79%
My Class 44% 34% 48%

Both charts indicate the average/mean score for all Kindergarten students at Lomitas who took the exam during the 1993-94 school year. Scores listed under "My Class" include all students currently (2/3/95) enrolled in my class who took the MRT last year. Nine students are not listed because they are new to the district. Three additional students were retained in first grade and took the MAT6 instead - these scores are not included in the above charts. When these 3 students are factored in (using NCEs) the scores for my class drop even further.

Please note that there are many other discrepancies between my current class and the "average" class at Lomitas. I am certain that these would include:

1) Balance between boy - girl ratios (I have 19 boys and 11 girls).
2) Number of students enrolled (and/or in need of) special programs.
3) Number of students who have been retained (I have 4).
4) Number of students who should have been retained but parents refused. (2 or 3 students)
5) Socio-economic status of the parents (approximately 20 of the children in my class receive free lunches.)
6) Number of students with parents belonging to PTA.

Unfortunately, I don't have exact figures in order to provide you with details.

Chart of Race/Ethnicity - actual statistics listed below.

  White Black Hispanic Other
All Lomitas Students (1993-94) 67% 20% 7% 6%
My Class (2/3/95) 30% 50% 17% 3%

The above statistics appeared in our staff bulletin, dated Wed. Feb. 22, 1995.

Chart of Free & Reduced Lunch Enrollment - Actual statistics listed below.

  Enrollment Free & Reduced Lunch Count % of Enrollment
All Lomitas Students (11/94) 726 208 28.7%
My Class (2/21/95) 31 18 58.1%

* On 2/21/95 my class had 16 children receiving free lunches and 2 receiving reduced lunches.

Chart of 1994-1995 Test Scores (Accessible stats not available at this time - sorry.

The chart on the previous page (listed above) provides last year's test scores of all students who enrolled in all first through third grade at the beginning of the 1995-1996 school year. Clearly, there are significant discrepancies between the multi-age classes and the other regular education classes.

It is even more disturbing when one compares the students assigned to my class, at the beginning of the year, when compared with the results of the other children, in the same grade level, at Lomitas.

Test Results of First Grade Children Assigned to Regular & Multi-age Classes at Beginning of 1995-1996 School Year

Chart of Lomitas Test Scores - Actual statistics listed below.

  Language Math Reading
All Kindergarten Students (1994-1995) 64% 56% 61%
My Class 37% 31% 34%
Exempt Students* 30% 32% 30%

* Exempt students are those who took the test but were not "officially" scored and included with other students because they were enrolled in special programs (RSP, SDC, Bilingual, etc.). The scores for these students are not as accurate as others because they were obtained from another graph provided by the school and exact figures were not available. Please note, however, that the mean math score of my students was lower than the exempt students.

1995-1996 Race/Ethnicity

  White Hispanic Black Other

All Lomitas Students (1994-95)
66% 22% 9% 3%
My Class (5/27/95) 63% 16% 19% 3%

While these figures are certainly less disturbing than last year's, when one examines the makeup of the multi-age classes, which are almost exclusively white, then the concern takes on additional meaning.

12. If you have filed this complaint with any other Federal, State, or local civil rights agency, or any Federal or State court,
please give details and dates. OCR will determine whether it is appropriate to investigate your complaint based upon the
specific allegations of your complaint and the a and the action taken by the other agency or court.




13. If you have filed with another agency, do you intend to do so.

YES____ NO X (Unless it is deemed necessary.)




14. Have you (or the person you are filing this complaint for) ever filed a complaint with OCR before?

YES_____ NO X

15. While it is not necessary for you to know about money that the institution you are filing against receives from the Federal government, if you know of any Education Department funds received by the program or department in which the alleged discrimination occurred, please provide this information below.

I am not certain what monies the school/district receive from the Federal Government, I just know that funds are received.
16. OCR cannot accept your complaint if it has not been signed. Please sign and date your complain below.

_________________ _____________________________
(Date) (Signature)

17. If OCR can not reach you at your home or work, OCR would like to have the name and telephone number of another person (relative or friend) who knows where and when OCR can reach you. This information is not required but it will be helpful to OCR.

NAME: ***********************************************************************
TELEPHONE NUMBERS: HOME ******************* WORK ****************************

18. OCR has a procedure available which is quicker than an investigation. In this process, call Early Complaint Resolution (ECR), OCR attempts to help the complainant and the institution reach an agreement to settle the complaint. OCR does not use ECR if class issues are involved (if more than one individual is alleged to have been harmed). In addition, both the complainant and the institution must want to take pare in the mediation. ECR is generally limited to approximately 25 days, and the complainant, the institution, or OCR may end the ECR process if it appears that an agreement can not be reached. If this happens, OCR will investigate the complaint. One of the primary benefits of this process is that it may be possible to resolve your complain quickly, without the need for an investigation.

If OCR feels that mediation of your complaint is appropriate, are you interested in having OCR mediate your complaint?

YES_____ NO X

If OCR determines ECR may be appropriate, OCR will contact you to discuss our ECR procedures in detail. If you requested this complaint form and OCR felt ECR may be appropriate based upon information you gave OCR, OCR may have attached ECR participation forms to this complaint form. If OCR did and you are interested in ECR, please sign and return the ECR and Privacy Act forms when you send OCR this complaint form.