On May 21, 2012, the San Mateo City Council is scheduled to receive a briefing from Scott Laurence, Superintendent of the San Mateo Union High School District. The School District is considering relocating the current location of Peninsula Continuation High School from it's current location in San Bruno to a new location.
Two of the sites under consideration are land located at Hillsdale High School or San Mateo High School.
For reasons I'll outline below, I oppose relocation of Peninsula Continuation High School to either high school campus in San Mateo.
As a graduate student and student teacher at the UCLA School of Education, I had a chance to volunteer and observe the impacts at Duke Ellington Continuation High School in Los Angeles, which was situated on the same property as Washington High School. Most of the students from Duke came out of Washington.
As many of you know, continuation high schools are designed for students who have trouble in a traditional high school environment. To help students in continuation high schools succeed, they need curriculum particularly suited for them in smaller classroom sizes, in an environment where they can get away from the distractions that caused them to get lost in high school in the first place.
Students in a continuation high school face real challenges, and need the best environment we can provide them. In a study relied on by the San Mateo Union High School District, continuation high school students "lack sufficient academic credits to remain on track to graduate with their age cohort, but the data also reveal them to be a highly vulnerable population characterized by multiple risk behaviors and other nonacademic learning barriers." Alternative Education Options: A Descriptive Study of California Continuation High Schools (Jorge Ruiz de Velasco, 2008)
Based on the research conducted by the School District, and after input from members of the community, I can not support the relocation of Peninsula High School to Hillsdale or San Mateo High School.
As a former public school teacher in Los Angeles, I believe the relocation of Peninsula High School to either campus at Hillsdale High or San Mateo High is not in the best interests of any of our students, nor is it in the best interests of our community.
Placing a continuation high school next to a traditional high school creates legitimate safety concerns for all students. It invites continuation high school students to fall back into behavior patterns and get back into environments which caused them trouble in the first place.
There are also legitimate public safety concerns for neighborhoods in San Mateo as well as potential traffic impacts in our community by adding another school in a small area.
I believe the report being presented to us on May 21 contains a number of omissions to student and public safety that need to be addressed. At tomorrows public hearing, I will address what I consider to be serious omissions in the District report that directly relate to the safety of San Mateo Union High School students.
To read the staff reports and presentations for Monday's meeting at San Mateo City Hall, click HERE.
The study session on May 21 at San Mateo City Hall will be informational only. The decision to move Peninsula High School will be made by the San Mateo Union High School Board of Trustees later this year. The San Mateo City Council has no authority to make decisions regarding property owned by the San Mateo Union High School District.
Therefore, at the Monday, May 21 meeting, no formal vote will be taken. However, members of the community are encouraged to come state their opinion on the project so that open communication on the topic can begin.