A Long Winding Road to Maple School Closing

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And to a Community Open School
or Political Education 301

1964. Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater. About which election William F. Buckley famously said, “They told me if I voted for Barry Goldwater we would escalate the war in Vietnam. I did, and we did.” (Ask an elder anti-war activist.)

I was entitled to vote in the federal presidential election even though not the state or local elections. I had just moved to California. Or more accurately, I had been moved to California. I mounted our aged brown and tan Ford station wagon with the cancerous fenders–salted roads in Wisconsin winters– and braved the freeways from Baldwin Park to downtown Los Angeles, the polling place for newcomers such as I. Those pioneers in covered wagons on the prairies could not have felt more at risk.

A year was spent scouting cities within reasonable commuting distance to Don Crawford’s employment, and waiting for our house in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, to sell. We chose Fullerton. I looked about for something to do in the public volunteer sector. During that year in Baldwin Park, I had met Democrats and participated in a convention of Democrats. The delegates seemed entirely passive to me; just sat and listened to a leader tell them what was what. Weird politics in California.

In Wisconsin, every four years, the Democrats and the Republicans in convention met adopted a platform, and candidates ran on their respective platforms. The Dems’ platform committee one year were considering adopting a sales tax plank to the platform. Our governor, Gaylord Nelson, who would later found Earth Day, told delegates at the Friday dinner: “It is your party. You can adopt a sales tax plank if you want. But if you do, I cannot run on that platform. You can get yourself a new candidate, but I cannot get myself a new conscience.”

No such politickin’ in California. There were three Republican parties and four of the Democratic persuasion. Seemed to me to be involved in politics in California, one would have to have a lot of time or a lot of money. So I cast about for something else and found the Fullerton Fair Housing Council, the first such organization in Orange County. Thereby leading to my being a founding mother of a publicly funded alternative school.

Fullerton Elementary was a segregated school district. Administrative staff were concerned. We had a famous Orange County integration case eight years precedent to Brown v. Board of education, the Mendez case in Westminster, filed in 1946. But, according to insiders, Dr. Parks (awarded a Ph. D. in 1963), kept his head in the sand, refusing to see any integrating action. Maple Avenue School, in the ghetto, was 98.6% minority. Part of the process of segregating students was that if families moving into the area had Spanish surnames or were Black, they were enrolled at Maple. An Anglo family would be assigned to Ford, or perhaps Richman or Orangethorpe Schools. The other part was discriminatory real estate practices.

A new superintendent came to town in September 1970. D. Russell Parks finally retired and his reign of segregation was over. First thing Superintendent Robert Crawford set about was to address the “ethnic imbalance” of the Fullerton Elementary School District.

That was the cover story for closing Maple Elementary School. “I never did understand why they closed Maple School,” said a woman who had been in the last Maple sixth grade class in 1972.

The actual underlying reason for closing Maple was that the residents of the new and affluent neighborhood called President Homes wanted their own elementary school. The nearest was Rolling Hills School. The objection to that school by the President Homesians was that their darling children would have to cross Brea Boulevard, it was said. But financing assistance from the state was allocated only on the basis of school facility square footage per pupil. Therefore, to get state financing, Fullerton Elementary District had to have less classroom space.

Crawford’s plan included the formation of a citizens advisory committee which was intended to recommend closing Maple School, 98.5% minority students. Without a neighborhood school, all those students would be bussed to various other schools. That ultimate plan was adopted by the school board, but rocks arose in the road to its achievement.

D. Russell finally retired. Robert A. Crawford, Ph. D., rode in to town and dared as his first task correcting the ethnic imbalance of the district. He decided to convene a committee of citizens to develop and propose integration alternatives for his board of trustees to consider. This was announced in the district newsletter, “Board News,” December 1970. The announcement stated that “The only school in the Fullerton District that has a racial or ethnic imbalance is Maple Avenue School.” Like all-Anglo or predominantly Anglo-attendance schools were not ethnically imbalanced?

Crawford had already sent forth a call in a letter December 1, 1970, to civic groups to appoint delegates to his committee. I saw a report of that call in the Fullerton News Tribune, a daily paper in those days. I telephoned Lorril Senefeld, chair of the Fullerton Fair Housing Council (the first such in Orange County). “We need a representative on that committee,” I said, “and Mary Stewart would be an ideal choice.” Lorril called back 20 minutes later. “Mary said no, and said that you would be a good delegate for us.”

Thus began a marvelous political education and experience, and the founding of a school my middle child was seriously in need of. Well, they all were, but none so acutely.

“The Fullerton School District Human Relations Advisory Committee was called to order by District Superintendent Robert A. Crawford at 7:40 p. m.,” reads the minutes of February 18, 1971. We were 25 good citizens and true, and this included seven employees of the school district, only one of whom, Danny Gomez, was a “classified” employee, meaning he did not work in the classroom nor in administration. Six of the committee members actually lived in the Maple school neighborhood, including Phyllis and Jose Estrella, members of the Maple School Parent-Teacher Association, who lived on South Brookhurst Avenue.

The superintendent read us the law, defined our goals and “outlined some of the tasks which the group might wish to accomplish at its initial meeting.. “ First thing, we adopted a meeting time. Next, we elected a Chairman. Roland Hiltscher, Rotary Club rep, nominated John T. Jimenez, principal of Maple school. Jimenez was one of two district representatives on the committee.

Well, none of us knew each other, but we all knew John Jimenez, so he was forthwith elected. That was Hiltscher’s appointed task, apparently, to assure Jimenez would be chair of the citizens committee. His name never appeared on another list of attendees as chronicled in our minutes. One of John’s claims to fame was that he was nearly hit by a car while crossing Lemon Street on Valencia Avenue, formerly known as Maple Avenue. As a result, the city installed traffic lights at Lemon and Valencia.

Belated lesson: “You dummy! When a committee is assembled and you all don’t know each other, you elect an interim chair until you get to know who would be a good chair,” an experience politico scolded me. But we got our own back. In May, Jimenez wanted us to disassemble for the summer because he would be world-hopping for two months. We civilian members of the committee, having got up on our hind legs, voted to continue working throughout the summer, AND we elected an interim chair–me.

We began in February 1971. First thing we had done, at the behest of Peggy Martin, AAUW and Elizabeth Beebe, League of Women Voters, was to draft a statement of principles to be adopted by the Board of Trustees so that we could be clear as to what the Board policy was in regard to the obligations and expectations for our task.

John Jimenez sent us letters in early April to inform us that we had been divided into four subcommittees, A B, C and D, with chairs and co-chairs names. He wrote that we were “…to establish criteria to be met in formulating a plan for presentation to the Board of Trustees. In response to this charge, AAUW and League of Women Voters representatives Peggy Martin and Elizabeth Beebe proposed that we asked that a statement of principles to be adopted by the Board of Trustees so that we could be clear in the obligations and expectations for our task. Jimenez didn’t like that, but he could not block it. We drafted a proposed statement and the Board did adopt these guidelines June 8, 1971. Thus, the Board declared that if any neighborhood was entitled to a neighborhood school, every neighborhood would be entitled to a neighborhood school. A declaration entirely contradictory to what later became apparent the intended outcome of the advisory committee: close Maple School. But consistent with the final advice of their committee.

I was assigned to Subcommittee C as chair. Who my people were is significant in the result of C. They included Danny Gomez as representing classified employees; Peggy Marin, American Association of University Women; Kenneth Lasikar and Carol Crowl, Fullerton Elementary Teachers Association. A late-comer was Laura E. Stine. Laura had just concluded a run for the FESD Board of Trustees, and lost. She had asked Mimi Haas, leader of the Southwest Neighborhood Association, to appoint her to this Advisory Committee . This was a time in Fullerton of significant homeowners’ associations, the most active being the Northwest convened by Miriam Sheddon, who had also been the organizer of the Fullerton Swim Club. Southwest Fullerton was a neighborhood of apartments as well as homes, so to be inclusive, it was organized as a neighborhood association, rather than a homeowners association.

Laura soon started discussing “alternatives” in education. It seems alternative schools, mainly private, very, very few public, were popular in those semi-hippy days. She talked, and Peggy, Ken and Carol joined with her in education-ese discussions. I did not see where this had anything to do with integration. Those people had backgrounds in education concepts. I did not. After a meeting or two or three, I suggested that we should run this by the neighborhood, see how they liked the idea.
We announced to the neighborhood a meeting in the teachers lounge at Maple school. Only three persons attended: me, Laura and Danny Gomez. Laura explained the concept and workings of alternative schools and a process by which the district could thereby be integrated. Danny liked it.
Mentally, I shrugged: There go my people, and I am their leader.

We went to work. A big question was, could the schools be integrated under such a plan? We needed analysis. I recruited a computer programmer, my son, Matt Crawford, an eight grader who was a fan of Barry Goldwater. His seventh grade teacher was early into computers. I took Matt to night classes in data processing, Fortran and COBOL, while I went to auto mechanics for women. I bribed him to work with us liberals by offering him access to the computers at Cal State and Fullerton College. We had an in at each place.

His four-foot long print-out showed the possible outcomes depending on what numbers of black, Hispanic and Anglo parents chose what plan. Students would be bussed to the school of choice on an integrated basis. It could be done.

We, without John Jimenez riding herd on us that summer, adopted a new rule: If any member of a subcommittee felt more affinity with the plan developing in another subcommittee, they could switch committees. I think every person who was not a school district employee moved to Subcommittee C. Ultimately, the Advisory Committee by a large plurality voted to recommend alternatives in education to the Fullerton school board trustees. AND we voted that Laura Stine should do the presenting of the plan to the board. Jimenez had tried to head that off; he was heard to bemoan to the secretary, “They didn’t want anyone to talk!”

Laura did a great job. The essence of our plan was that the different elementary schools would be designed on the free-school model, the conservative discipline model, or the middle- of- the-road model. Parents and teachers could choose their preference for their children and for teaching in. Laura contrasted two popular football teams, one long-haired guys, one straight and narrow, as a metaphor to illustrate that you can have good outcomes with quite different lifestyles.

Quicker’n you could say Brown versus Board of Education our plans were summarily dismissed. See, the thing was, Plan A, B, C and D all included Maple School as a functioning school. We were supposed to have eliminated segregation in our elementary schools by eliminating the segregated school. The next advisory committee (which was for financial purposes) appointed by the superintendent was pointedly announced to the Board as a committee of “reputable, credible people.”

The school district staff was put to work and developed Plans E, F, G and H, each of which, duh! called for closing Maple. Later, the Maple neighborhood set about devising Plan Z.

Now here I digress from my path to Community Open School, but I like the story. It’s good grass roots politics.

Final plans from each of the subcommittees of the Human Relations Advisory committee had been presented to the district Board of Trustees on October 12, 1971. Lorril Senefeld invited Superintendent Crawford to attend the November meeting of the Fair Housing Council. We convened in the meeting room of the First Presbyterian Church of Fullerton at the top of the hill on Euclid Street. The room was comfortably furnished with upholstered chairs and sofas. Crawford told us that the Board would indeed vote to close Maple school. This before any hearings of any sort! I was shocked.

Next day I telephoned Gloria Duron, committee member from the Maple neighborhood. “Gloria,” I said, “We cannot let them close the school with no notice to the neighborhood!” She agreed most strongly. How best to notify the people? Best way, Gloria said, would be to send home a notice with the school children. I told her I knew of an available mimeograph machine and someone who would probably translate. Gloria said she could see to the distribution. We wrote an announcement. We booked a room at the school–California law provides that schools shall give space to the public if a meeting is open to the public and no money is requested. We named our project the Ad Hoc Committee to Save Maple School.

I contacted Ana Christianson, a bilingual, politically active teacher I knew. She was delighted to translate. I called Levene Borgen, the representative from Golden Hill school She knew the president of the PTA, Bobbie Hine, and that Bobbie had a mimeograph in her home. Levene came to my house, picked up the English/Spanish announcement for a meeting to discuss the coming closing of the neighborhood school. She brought back to me 300 flyers, and I delivered them to Gloria.

The meeting took place in one of the portable classrooms on the Maple campus. The room was filled with men and women seated at all the tables. I don’t remember who among our advisory committee members we notified of the meeting. Members attending, in addition to me, were Laura Stine, Levene Borgen and Peggy Martin, AAUW. We nice, Anglo liberal ladies, stood in turns to explain what was about to happen and how it all came about, and why we were there. There was utterly no response from a single person in the room. Silence. One woman near me huddled, her chin in her collar, scarf covering her head.

We had done what we could. We looked and each other. We rose and walked to the exit. Everyone else stayed seated. Next to the door stood a fierce-looking young man in a khaki jacket, jeans, boots, a bandana around his head. MEChA, I surmised, a militant Hispanic organization on Fullerton Community College campus, as well as across the state. Several other similarly dressed, militant-looking young men were present. “What is going to happen now?” I said. “Don’t worry,” he answered. “We’ll take care of it.”

So they organized a Maple Neighborhood Council, but I think only men, and called upon Ralph Kennedy, local liberal activist and founder of The Fullerton Observer, who was then serving as a chaplain at Cal State Fullerton. He had also been a founding member of the Fair Housing Council which arose with members of the First Presbyterian Church. Ralph facilitated their committee which devised another plan they named “Z,” the final plan. They did not contact any of the advisory committee members for any comment, information nor insight.

Come the night the school board of trustee was to vote, their meeting was set at Wilshire auditorium instead of the regular location at the district offices. I was shocked to see police decked out in riot gear on the steps of the auditorium. The place was packed. Speaker after speaker advocated postponement of the vote. Only one “reputable credible” person said the trustees should vote now, and that was Molly McClanahan.

A new wrinkle had been discovered by the Maple Neighborhood Council: The state of California had a new law that required the Department of Education, through the Intergroup Relations, be involved in school integration plans. One Way bussing, it was believed, would not be acceptable. But that law would not go into effect until March. The FESD vote was set for February 8, 1972. The strategy, then, for those who wanted to save Maple schools, was to convince the school board to postpone their vote.

Robert Crawford had carried out a propaganda campaign. He talked with every civic leader, every minister and pastor, telling them the school district was trying to do the right thing; however, he claimed, there were “outside agitators” at work in Fullerton. (The earliest record of a claim of “outside agitators” in this country was pre-Revolutionary War, where native Americans were supporting the slave revolts in New York and were labeled, “outside agitators.” )

Crawford had wined and dined, or at least lunched, the opinion-makers of the city. It was reported that he was propagandizing all the priests and ministers in town also. The one civic leader he convinced was Molly McClanahan, president of the League of Women Voters. Peggy Martin, head of the American Association of University Women, refused his blandishments.

At six o’clock that evening I had received a telephone call from Doris Stasse. She said the League had met that afternoon, and Molly was determined to back Superintendent Crawford. Doris said Molly had been out of the country for a year and did not understand what was going on. Elizabeth Beebe, the League’s representative on the citizen’s advisory committee, pleaded with Molly, to no avail. Elizabeth quit the League with a broken heart.

Doris asked me to call Molly to try to get her to change her mind. “I don’t know the woman,” I said. “Here’s her telephone number,” Doris said. “Call her.” I did. Molly would not listen to me, saying, “I’m having dinner with my family,” and hung up the phone.

Come the night the school board of trustee was to vote, their meeting was set at Wilshire auditorium instead of the regular location at the district offices. I was shocked to see occupying the entry steps police decked out in riot gear on the steps of the auditorium. The place was packed. Speaker after speaker advocated postponement of the vote. A representative of the State Office of Inter-group Relations attended this meeting and offered his services. He told the board the “integration” plan they were apparently about to adopt was legally unacceptable. He suggested that the Maple Neighborhood Council “Plan Z” could be modified so as to be acceptable.

Only one “reputable, credible” person stood up to tell the trustees to vote immediately that night to close Maple school and bus all the neighborhood children to other neighborhood schools, and that person was Molly McClanahan. The board needed just one such person to justify their proceeding.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the dastardly deed having been done, it was time to get on with the interests of our own children. Laura Stine had a son who was failing to thrive in school. My daughter Elizabeth was refusing to go to school. Levene was not liking the person she felt school was making her daughter into. We began a campaign of taking kids out of school, depriving the district of their state funding per pupil.

Laura had talked with Superintendent Crawford of the need for a school program that offered children space for self-direction. He was unconcerned. Hence, the establishment of our own school in early 1972 was to get the attention of the school administration. Laura knew some mothers from nursery school days, and we began with six students. The kids named it “Golden Eagle School.” The site was Laura’s house in southwest Fullerton on Olive Avenue just east of Euclid Street.

Elizabeth’s three siblings before her had had their school agonies, usually commencing by fifth grade. Tony’s school pictures were a trail of growing sadness, grade by grade. Beth, as she was then known, was made of sterner stuff. In second grade, not far from the end of the school year, she announced she was not going to school any more. At first, I fought with her, actually pushed her out the door and locked it. She stood across the street, leaning on the mail box and sobbing. Mrs. Sanders came out to see what was gong on. Busted! I couldn’t do that any more. I went with her to talk to her teacher who had no idea of any problems. Beth ventured explanations: “My fingernails are too short.” “I can’t think of a picture to go with my story.”

She finished the year. I presumed she would get over the whole thing, whatever it was, during the summer. Come Labor Day, she announced, “I”m not going to school.” I walked her there, to Rolling Hills School, a block up the street. I spoke with her third grade teacher, Mrs. Johnson. Mrs. Johnson had dealt with my oldest, Matthew, six years before when in fifth grade he refused to do any school work but science. Geography? Never! That had no connection to his future as a scientist. Mrs. Johnson had been tolerant, said she would have to give him an F, but not to worry, it wouldn’t go on his permanent record, would no way impede his college prospects.

I also took Elizabeth to the Child Guidance Center (now Rutabegorz). Diagnosis: she does not have school phobia, but she has to go to school.

Third grade was fine with Bethy. Mrs. Johnson never sent her to the office if she was late in the morning. She would greet the child with a cheerful welcome. She worked with her students using individual contract notebooks. I remember one entry, Beth writing, “Do 25 and go on to 26. Do 26 and go on to 27…I can’t stand it!” Mrs. Johnson’s reply was, “Well then, why don’t you write a story. You are so good at that.”

Fourth grade, she was in a special program for gifted children, three teachers, team teaching. It was also fine—until December. “I am not going to school.” Back to school for me. The teacher showed me her contract notebook system: she had changed her system so that she, the teacher, filled in all the items in the notebook, including the child’s name at the top of the page.

“Why did you change it?” I asked. “Well, if I didn’t tell some children when to go to the library, they would never go.” “Yes, but not my child.” She shrugged, and closed the book. Beth commenced behaving resistantly. She was referred to the support teacher. She was sent to the office. Principal Herb Welch said, “What’s the matter little girl? Is the math too hard?” “That’s it,” said the little girl. “The math’s too hard.” It was a year later I discovered she had been tested; her I. Q. was 162.

They called in the school psychologist. He reported to me and Mr. Welch in the school office conference room. “Some children need to set their own direction,” he stated. “It’s based on family values.” “What? I’m just a housewife.” “No matter,” he said. “It’s family values. Second grade is typical for resistace to begin, then fourth and seventh grades; sometimes kindergarten if the child is precocious.” (OMG! Valerie already resisting going to kindergarten. One day, to illustrate the problem, I took her to school on a pony.) The parameter is that the child has to go to school …” he drew his hands widely around the circumference of the oval table…” and withing that, the school needs to give.”

“No way!” snorted Herb Welch, age 58. “If we give in to her now, what will she (age 8) want next month!?” The psychologist shrugged…and walked out without another word. What was I to do? I still get teary thinking of such abandonment of my child and me. I learned later the man was working half time for the school while he established a private practice. A motive to not want to rock any boats on behalf of a little girl.

Speaking of which, school people fell all over my two boys who had tested I. Q.’s of 158 and 164. Teachers were always thinking up neat projects for them to do, science fairs to enter. The boys would not perform as urged by teachers. Their two-years-younger sisters had tested at 154 and 162. The first girl was ignored, and actually turned into a labeled “troublemaker” by the end of sixth grade. The testing I did not know of until I learned at COS that parents could read their kids’ “cum” (cumulative) files. I went to Troy high school to look at Matt and Annie’s. I took Levene Borgen with me–we had learned a policy of never dealing with bureaucracy by one’s lone self. I opened Matt’s file. Then I opened Annie’s file… My friend said, “Shocked you, didn’t it.”

Probably all my fault—my attitude toward school had been, “If you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you.”

So that was my motivation for continuing with Laura Stine and Levene Borgen to achieve an open school. I was also heavily involved with the fair housing organization and the PTA project to get the road out of the park. Laura would just look at me and say, “It’s your kid.” So that’s where my attention focused, Golden Eagle School.

As the children occupied themselves with learning things, like playing with the mercury from a thermometer, and trying to train a gerbil to jump off a high dive, we adults paced Laura’s family room, thinking, reading, analyzing open school philosophies and methods. Laura was a credential teacher, so she knew how to talk with the superintendent. Levene was an experienced PTA activist, so she knew how the administration worked. I…? As it turned out, I seemed to be a strategist.

On or February 9, 1972, after the Maple school vote, Laura went to the superintendent. “Now how about an alternative school.” Finally, in May, he presented a proposal to the school board authorizing parents and teachers who wanted an open school or a conservative school to join together to develop plans for such programs. Our thinking was that if parents want their kids in an open school, and a teacher wanted to teach in an open school, the kids would be fine. And likewise, for conservative parents and teachers.

The board in their usual sheepish manner voted for whatever their shepherd presented to them. Next morning we danced at Golden Eagle School, 1317 Olive Street. Next step was to send home an announcement of a new open school opportunity to all parents in the district, a flyer for the kids to take home. Laura called the district office to start on that. “Sorry. Superintendent Crawford has left for a two months’ vacation.” His return would be the middle of summer; ergo no school flyers being sent home by his authorization.

Laura telephone the district offices to speak with the assistant superintendent. Sorry, he was too busy. We tried several calls. No flyers would be sent without official authorization, and no official would deal with us to give that authorization.

Pace…pace…think…think. “There is the Civic Center Act,” I said. “Any group can have a meeting at any school as long as the meeting is open to the public and no money changes hands.” We booked a meeting at Orangethorpe school. We wrote an announcement which was published in our then-daily newspaper, the Fullerton Tribune.

We telephoned a message for the assistant superintendent: tell him he is invited to our meeting. He showed up and brought with him three minions. The game was afoot!

August 1, 1972, the Fullerton Elementary School District Board of Trustees approved the establishment of “Community Open School” and authorized using three now-vacant classrooms at Maple school. Ninety of 114 applicants would be accepted for enrollment.

Arriving at Maple school with my VW busload of kids that first day of school, I was abashed; mothers were standing on curbs waiting with their children to be bussed to other neighborhood schools, while I and others were bussing our children to their neighborhood school. What a nasty choice the district had handed us.

After the school board closed Maple, Superintendent Crawford had called a meeting of the school parents to talk about the district’s busing plan. The room in one of the portable classrooms was filled with Maple neighborhood parents. They were not passive. They wanted a say in which children would be bused together to which school. Mothers wanted kids to go to school with their children’s best friends. Crawford just wanted to draw lines. People argued with him. That woman so repressed at my informational meeting was now speaking out loud and clear.

Crawford did not engage in conversation. No give-and-take. He turned his back on the community and walked out. He said he would come back the following week when they could behave better.
The following week, only one neighborhood person showed up. Levene and I were there again to observe. The man started to apologize for his people’s lack of participation. “Oh no” we said. We told him of the blatant rejection of the community by the superintendent the week before.

Crawford did not last long in Fullerton. He was fired, apparently on moral grounds. He had hired Fullerton New Tribune reporter Karen Grinstead as a public relations person dealing with the integration issues, along with a Mexican American as a Judas goat. Karen was a lovely young woman. Crawford was a good looking man. They began an affair, soon divorcing their spouses. The Board had tolerated the affair, but when they got married, that was beyond the pale. Board members would have to socialize with these two sinners at public events; that they could not accept. Last heard of, Crawford was working in Pacific Grove.

I think the administration approved an open school in order to keep us liberals busy and away from participating in the political consequences of closing Maple School. But it was cruel to place it in the Maple neighborhood school.


That first year we organized COS mightily and reorganized repeatedly. We were enabled unexpectedly by the indifference of the man assigned to the Siberia that was now Maple school: Frank Butler, a school principal in disgrace with fortune and district administrator’s eyes for some reason. He had only COS and a Head Start program or two to supervise. It was his last year of employment and he had no reason to make any effort to conform COS to any district dictates.

We functioned in total conformity with state education law regarding alternative schools. The law was fulfilled: our school was run entirely by students, teachers and parents. We even hired a new teacher, writing the job description, interviewing candidates, choosing one of them. The Education Code in defining Alternative Schools in the first iteration of that law alternating the placement of those three categories in each paragraph; the next one would be “teachers, parents and students,” “ then parents, students and teachers.” Laura and I had driven to Sacramento to lobby Governor Jerry Brown to sign the bill. Along with some consulting Laura made appointments for.

The 1981 amendment reduced such authority to merely being “maximized,”

L’Envoi:
1) No information about Community Open School is to be found at the Fullerton Elementary School District offices. At the Launer Room are a few papers donated by Roberto Melendez regarding the closing of Maple School.

2) California Education Code
Alternative Schools [58500 – 58512] ( Chapter 3 enacted by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1010. )
58501. The following notice shall be sent along with the notification of parents and guardians required by Section 48980:
“Notice of Alternative Schools
California state law authorizes all school districts to provide for alternative schools. Section 58500 of the Education Code defines alternative school as a school or separate class group within a school which is operated in a manner designed to:
(a) Maximize the opportunity for students to develop the positive values of self-reliance, initiative, kindness, spontaneity, resourcefulness, courage, creativity, responsibility, and joy.
(b) Recognize that the best learning takes place when the student learns because of his desire to learn.
(c) Maintain a learning situation maximizing student self-motivation and encouraging the student in his own time to follow his own interests. These interests may be conceived by him totally and independently or may result in whole or in part from a presentation by his teachers of choices of learning projects.
(d) Maximize the opportunity for teachers, parents and students to cooperatively develop the learning process and its subject matter. This opportunity shall be a continuous, permanent process.
(e) Maximize the opportunity for the students, teachers, and parents to continuously react to the changing world, including but not limited to the community in which the school is located.
In the event any parent, pupil, or teacher is interested in further information concerning alternative schools, the county superintendent of schools, the administrative office of this district, and the principal’s office in each attendance unit have copies of the law available for your information. This law particularly authorizes interested persons to request the governing board of the district to establish alternative school programs in each district.”
Further, a copy shall be posted in at least two places normally visible to pupils, teachers, and visiting parents in each attendance unit for the entire month of March in each year.
(Amended by Stats. 1981, Ch. 469, Sec. 3.)

Is this ever done?

Some History Regarding Domestic Violence

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Fullerton is the home of two quite significant developments in our efforts to ameliorate the effects of domestic violence upon women and children. The first major event was the establishment of the third a shelter for battered women in this country– thanks to our federal government– the third in the state of California and the very first shelter in Orange County.

The second event was the initiation of a process that led to a completely new protocol in the Superior Court’s Family Law department to deal with mediation of child custody issues, Chapter 2 of this Domestic Violence History.

The shelter was named Women’s Transitional Living Center in 1976. The ‘70’s was a time of resurgence of the feminist movement. Women were re-thinking their statuses, making changes in their lives, reconsidering the roles they had accepted early in life. The founding feminists of this shelter sensed that a blatant allegation that men were beating their wives would grate upon the powers that held the money which was needed to open an escape route to abused women. So the facility was called a “transitional” place for women. In fact, our first client was not a physically abused woman.

The need for services for abused women had been established by the Orange County National Organization for Women in their Task Force on Family Violence. The funding to begin those services came from a Great Society program established in 1964, the Office of Economic Opportunity, otherwise known as the War on Poverty. Community Action Councils were locally established . The watchword was, “Maximum Feasible Participation.” The councils were later termed Community Development Councils to tone down the demands for “action.”
(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_Action_Agencies for full description and discussion.)

Karen Peters, head of Orange County NOW, learned of the Orange County Community Action Program (CAP) and its Council. She learned that neighborhood boxing clubs for boys were being formed and other such services. “We need some of that money for a woman’s program,” she said. Taking a proposal to the Orange County CAC, a large number of women attended the council meeting one summer night in an upstairs meeting room in a strip mall shopping center in the barrio of Santa Ana.

Having won CAC approval, the county Board of Supervisors had the last say as to what programs were funded. Again, women, this time with children, arrived en masse one morning at the county recorders building in the county civic center where the supervisors met in a basement room. Harriet Weider, Huntington Beach city council member, was there for an issue of her city. Frances Wood, Fullerton city council member, was there for an issue of her city.

Councilmember Weider asked why so many women had come to the supervisors’ meeting. She then spoke to the supervisors in support of the grant to establish WTLC, a place of safety for women. Frances Wood remained silent about the women’s cause. WTLC was later opened in her city. Harriet Weider went on to establish a shelter for women in Huntington Beach, “Human Options,” using a book written by the original WTLC staff, Susan Naples and Sherry Janes, titled, “How to Establish A Shelter.”

After approval by the board of supervisors, the task was to find a suitable location. A Fullerton real estate man, —-?, helped in the search. One location was a home in Anaheim for sale, now the White House restaurant. Too small. Next was a set of four houses on a lot near the edge of Orange; easy to fence, making a compound which could also contain a playground for children.
Somehow, word got out, the men of the neighborhood rose up in protest, and a shelter in view of, possibly, their wives was NIMBY’d.

The eventual location was what seemed to be a former medical establishment owned by the Florence Crittenden Services of Orange County. They were next door in a similar building on Harbor Boulevard in Fullerton. The place was basically one long hallway leading from a front parlor with rooms opening on each side, and ending in a kitchen. Two bathrooms, one on each side of the hallway. And a small office at the front of the building across the hall from the parlor.
By this time, a board of directors had formed, and I had been asked to be one of them. I was just starting my last year in law school. Mary Swain, a NOW member and librarian in Santa Ana was our chair. Other members were Jane O’Grady, I think a county employee, Gerald Klein, also law student and token male, and Karen R. Peters, NOW president. Gerry and I graduated from law school in June 1976.

WTLC was established as a non-profit membership organization. To become a member, one paid five dollars, raised to $20 by 1981. I recall that a person could become a voting member by completing10 hours of volunteer work, but I don’t see that in the old by-laws. The voting members elected the board of directors. That was significant in our early years. We had strife with our staff. The staff consisted of one full time and one part time person.

We also had strife with the county agency that oversaw the community action programs. They wanted to require that all women be sprayed for lice and be interviewed by a psychiatrist before being admitted into the shelter. We successfully resisted those dehumanizing strictures. However, our full time staff person was dating a psychiatrist, and she contrived to have him begin seeing the women. This in the year 1978.

On learning of the psychiatric intervention, the board called a halt to that. Staff went on strike. Board members, 11 of us by this time, one a judge, pitched in and ran the shelter. Strike settled after many strenuous meetings. Strikers went back to work, but began organizing to sign up new members who would vote for new board members. Board members began signing up new members who would re-elect them. I was chair that year, and the next and the next.

Meantime, we were not so kindly evicted from Crittenden facilities, and the board having been not sufficiently diligent, we scrambled for new digs. Our real estate man realized that his church owned an old two and a half story house on Amerige Avenue, next to the church. We took it, cockroaches and all, and set about finding a permanent home and funding to acquire it. Housing and Urban Development monies were at hand.

Just down the street at the corner of Amerige and Pomona was the original hospital of Fullerton. It was for sale, owned by John Bloesser, the carpet tycoon. Such a nasty negotiation. It nearly fell through, and Lila Macdonald, chief of staff of Supervisor —–, threatened me with losing the whole $50,000 HUD grant if the supervisors should hear of our shaky status. Our staff, seven by this time, really wanted that location because it was across the street from Rutabegorz restaurant, of which they had become mightily fond.

We made a deal with Bloesser and bought the place. Came the first rain storm, a large hole opened in the roof and water poured in like Niagara Falls. Bloesser refused compensation. Lawsuit ensued. Settlement offered. Board discussions. The judges had recommended a lawyer, and the county counsel, we thought, would assist to protect county interests. They didn’t. The judges seemed to be suggesting carrying on with a trial. I and other board members went along with the idea.

And we lost. Lost big. The court ordered WTLC to pay Mr. Bloesser $50,000 for attorney fees. I felt responsible. I had had the nagging thought, or a nagging thought that I ought to think, that a settlement is better that risking a judgment. I took out a lien on my property to pay the debt. Well, being entirely stressed, I said I would do that if David Winton would handle the whole transaction. And he did. And WTLC set to work to get the money to pay off my loan. And they did.

At the fiscal year ending in June 1981, I retired after five years. By this time we had thirteen board members, most of them more competent than I. I seem to have recovered at last. I had survived the reign of a dictatorial executive director who raised chaos with our staff. Called to task as a result of a plea from that staff, she defensively accused me of dishonesty in giving away tickets to a $100 fund raiser. Her predecessor, the wonderful Glee Cantalibre, had developed our staff into a competent and collegial conglomerate. Many many meetings. That woman was later shot dead on her driveway by her teen-aged daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend. She and her children had been with me and my children at Community Open School.

Next had been a director who missed the deadline for filing the application for a substantial grant. After her, a very competent woman who, unfortunately, was in the throes of a divorce, the husband and his lawyer being without scruple in everything, including parenting of their young child. She perforce left for a steady job in the Los Angeles court services, and went on to be a significant person in my Chapter 2.

The SOCO Story

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Some time in 2002, Jack Franklin, owner of Heroes Bar and Grill in the Villa Del Sol, became unhappy with the rising rent for these premises. He was also acquainted with Walt Johnson, owner of four properties in a downtown block which had yet to receive attention from the city redevelopment agency. That block is bounded by Santa Fe, Commonwealth and Malden Avenues, and Harbor Boulevard, and now prominently labeled SOCO with signage that cost taxpayers $429,600. Across Malden Avenue is the Fullerton Community (now Opus) Bank, which became the enabler for a four million dollar scheme.

Walt at that time had been a member of the Redevelopment Advisory Committee for 20 years. During his tenure on the committee, he had sold a warehouse building, one of those four properties, to the redevelopment agency, and then bought it back two years later. These transactions were arranged and facilitated by his fellow RDA committee member, Scott Dowds of Farmers and Merchants Bank. Walt was again appointed for yet another term on the advisory committee, this time by Councilmember Sharon Quirk.

One of the first comments Councilmember Quirk made from the council dais was that she had an event at Roscoes, one of Jack Franklin’s enterprises in a Walt Johnson building on Commonwealth Avenue, within the SOCO project. When Pam Keller was a city council member, she advocated for Florentine’s martini sign, and voted against any alcohol-related signage rules. What’s with these supposedly liberal women and the bar trade?

Meantime, Paul Dudley and others in the city said they were concerned about bringing more business activity to downtown. Some, including Mayor Don Bankhead, Sgt. Fred Casas of the police department, assigned to downtown, and Jack Franklin traveled to consult in Pasadena to see how that downtown was developed. They discovered a Restaurant Overlay District, ROD.

In June 2002, the council unanimously resolved to hold a hearing and adopt such ordinance. In October 2002, the planning commission approved this proposal, Dudley’s staff telling them it had “negative declaration.” Apparently the commissioners believed that releasing restaurants from parking requirements and rules for conditions of operation would have no impact upon this city.

In December 2002 the city council–Don Bankhead, Michael Clesceri, Richard Jones, and Jan Flory –unanimously approved this ROD. (Chris Norby had just resigned from the council.) Apparently city attorney Richard Jones did not caution his clients that there would be consequences if there were no conditional use permits for downtown restaurants that served alcohol. Nightclubs were born and thrived. Crowds of revelers filled the streets, blocking emergency vehicles on Commonwealth Avenue at times, FPD Capt. Greg Mayes told the city council.

Bookstores, antique shops, dress shops were driven out. The only businesses activities accommodated in downtown Fullerton were “restaurants” which had become nightclubs because there were no restrictions, that is, no conditional use permits, to control alcohol-fueled activities. And landlords could get so much more in rent from a restaurant/bar than from a book store.

The Franklin and Johnson plan to redevelop the 100 block of west Commonwealth and Santa Fe Avenues could not get approved without some parking nearby. They coveted the lot on Santa Fe and Malden owned by Fullerton Community Bank. They asked CEO Carl Gregory for permission to use the lot for night time bar parking. He said no.

They returned again and again, according to a former bank employee, until they wore him down and he gave permission to use bank property for bar patrons. SOCO was born, midwifed by Jack Franklin. Walt Johnson and Mike Ritto, Downtown Merchants (later, Business) Association president and AllMedia Advertising, according to a former city employee. Ritto denies he was one of the people who nagged Carl Gregory, but a former bank employee said he was.

City Manager Chris Meyers, at a meeting in 2008, said that Paul Dudley drew up the ROD ordinance which stated that no restaurant had to provide parking nor to have a conditional use permit. “Paul Dudley meant it for parking,” said Meyers. “But it says, ‘no conditional use permit,’” I pointed out after all other questions had been answered. Answer came there none.

Incidently, I had received no notice of this meeting, I had been writing regularly for the Fullerton Observer. I and the reporter for The Register, each received anonymous telephone calls telling us of the time, place and subject matter of this meeting.

The downtown boys had also asked the redevelopment agency in 2004 for a pedestrian bridge across Harbor “to connect the two SOCO’s,” but the agency staff representative Terry Galvin told them at the time Redevelopment didn’t have the money. That pedestrian bridge has now been built across Harbor Boulevard. Ostensibly, it was build in order for commuters to make the long hike from the parking structure on the west side to the station on the east side of Harbor .

That parking structure could have been built on property already owned by the city right at the train station. Instead, an extra $10,000,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent in acquiring property for train station parking on the west side of Harbor Boulevard, and, voilá, now a pedestrian bridge connects the two bar/restaurant concentrations.

That new parking structure is right across the street from SOCO and Jack Franklin’s “Heroes” establishment.

Next part, downtown

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Now that DTF* is a hotbed of relentless activity, ABC doesn’t care at all about over-concentration.
In the ruling for our third and last protest hearing for Grits restaurant, Administrative Law Judge Doris H. Huebel said there is a two-prong test to determine overconcentration: crime, and the ratio of on-sale licenses to population. She determined that this census tract qualifies as over-concentrated on both counts.

However, Judge Huebel went on to say that “…an excess number of licenses in a given area is also grounds for denying an application.” But “…there is no set formula for determining what constitutes and excess number of license; rather, the overall impact of the license, should it issue, must be examined.”

“In the present case, there are 19 on-sale licenses withing 1,000 feet of the Premises. Given the nature of the Downtown Fullerton area and the variety of people it attracts daily and nightly due to its mixed commercial and residential use purpose, the pure number of licenses by itself does not appear to be excessive.”

Her conclusion said, in effect, there are so many bars, what’s one more? In other words, now that we have an overconcentration of alcohol licenses and a crime problem downtown, more bars and licenses couldn’t possibly make it any worse.

*to the party crowd, this does not mean DownTown Fullerton, but Down To F**k

ABC approves another license

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Now that DTF* is a hotbed of relentless activity, ABC doesn’t care at all about over-concentration.
In the ruling for our third and last protest hearing for Grits restaurant, Administrative Law Judge Doris H. Huebel said there is a two-prong test to determine overconcentration: crime, and the ratio of on-sale licenses to population. She determined that this census tract qualifies as over-concentrated on both counts.

However, Judge Huebel went on to say that “…an excess number of licenses in a given area is also grounds for denying an application.” But “…there is no set formula for determining what constitutes and excess number of license; rather, the overall impact of the license, should it issue, must be examined.”

“In the present case, there are 19 on-sale licenses withing 1,000 feet of the Premises. Given the nature of the Downtown Fullerton area and the variety of people it attracts daily and nightly due to its mixed commercial and residential use purpose, the pure number of licenses by itself does not appear to be excessive.”

Her conclusion said, in effect, there are so many bars, what’s one more? In other words, now that we have an overconcentration of alcohol licenses and a crime problem downtown, more bars and licenses couldn’t possibly make it any worse.

*to the party crowd, this does not mean DownTown Fullerton, but Down To F**k

Alcohol Beverage Control Licenses

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Continuing How Downtown Got This Way…

Regarding the  Alcohol Beverage Control Department hearing to grant a license to “Spiked Paint”
Inquiring of the status of the ABC notices to the police department, I was told that the officer who had handled the notices had  retired, and they didn’t know who had been assigned that responsibility.

From the B&P codes, I learned that the allotment of licenses depended on the population of the census tract as compared with county population and ratio.  Calculating that ratio, it appeared we qualified for five “on sale”–retail– licenses and two “off sale”–manufacturer–licenses in Tract 0113, basically the Central Business District of Fullerton.  This area also includes  the Restaurant Overlay District, of which more about later.  That number, “five,” was acknowledged  by the administrative law judge in her ruling approving a license for Grits restaurant on May 23, 2016.  And more about that later, also.

I also noted that an application would be denied “…if issuance of that license would tend to create a law enforcement problem, or if issuance would result in or add to an undue concentration of licenses, except as provided in Section 23058.4.”   Section23058.4 defines the concept of “undue concentration” of licenses.  It also says the department could still  issue a license “…if the applicant shows that public convenience or necessity would be served by the issuance.”  Emphasis added.

Delia Garcia, Licensing Representative II, Santa Ana District Office, testified at the hearing that was held for the issuance of an alcohol license to Spiked Paint.  Spiked Paint, already long gone, was a funky little place between Back Alley and Les Amis restaurant, overlooking the parking lot north of Amerige Avenue.  It offered opportunity to copy paintings while imbibing wine and beer.

Ms. Garcia offered into evidence a letter dated April 25, 2012, from Heather Allen, Planning Manager, on Community Development Department letterhead.  That letter stated that the issuance of an alcoholic beverage license to Spiked Paint would “satisfy the City of Fullerton’s definition of public convenience or necessity.”

I objected that there was no foundation indicating Ms. Allen was authorized to issue such an opinion.  Ms. Garcia left the witness chair to go into the ABC offices.  She returned with the memo from F. Paul Dudley, Director of Development Services dated March 24, 1995, referred to in the first paragraph above. Dudley stated, “Approvals will be made by this department after consultation with the Police Department.  Please contact me at X6547 by April 3 if you have any concerns. If we receive none (sic), we will prepare a letter on April 4 for the Mayor’s signature designating Development Service as the contact department for ABC.”

Ms. Garcia also offered into evidence a copy of then-Mayor Julie Sa’s letter dated April 4, 1995, to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Office of the Director, which read, “Pursuant to your March 8, 1995, memo, the City of Fullerton designates our Development Services Department as the authorized contact point for determinations of public convenience or necessity under AB-2897.  The Development Services Department will coordinate with the Fullerton Police Department.  Sincerely, Julie Sa, Mayor.”

I have seen two applications wherein the applicant her/himself  tells ABC why it is convenient and necessary to get a license, and one where our development department wrote the rationale. I have not researched city nor ABC files to see how many other “public convenience or necessity” statements were made by city staff on behalf of the issuance of license to sell alcohol in our downtown.  It would be interesting to know which were the first five licensees.

How Downtown Fullerton Got This Way

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In 1994, the legislature passed AB2897, a law giving more control over licenses to sell alcohol to cities. That is what F. Paul Dudley, then director of Fullerton’s Development (formerly known as Planning) Services, wrote in a memo March 24, 1995, to four other fellow employees– Chief of Police Pat McKinley, City Manager James Armstrong, Lt. Jeff Roop, FPD, and Senior Planner Ted Commerdinger .To get a license, he explained, the local governing body would have to tell Alcohol Beverage Control that it was a “public convenience and necessity” that an applicant receive a license.

Dudley’s memo noted that “‘Public convenience and necessity’ is tied to the concentration of licenses in an area, the population of the area, and reported crimes. As a result of AB2897, local agencies now have much more influence over the issuance of retail licenses.”

Dudley told the four who received the memo that if they had no problems with it, he would have the mayor sign a letter designating his department as the contact for ABC. No one indicated any problem with designating Paul Dudley’s department to be the contact for ABC. Mayor Jule Sa sent that letter to ABC April 4, 1995. Mayor Sa’s letter acutally designated the Development Service Department “…as the authorized contact poit for determinations of public convenience or necessity under AB-2897. However, the keys to a Fullerton liquor license apparently were now in the hands of Paul Dudley.

According to the rules of the Alcohol Beverage Control agency as written in our state laws, the number of licenses to sell alcohol in a particular area is calculated by considering the residential population in a census tract. The rules regarding alcoholic beverages are to be found in Division 9, sections 23000 to 25762 of the California Business and Professions Code.

By the official standards, Census Tract 0113 that encompasses downtown Fullerton is qualified for just five licenses. By last count, we have 58.

How could this happen? Well, I discovered how it happened through the process of protesting the issuance of alcohol licenses. The first was Chronic Tacos on the north side of Chapman Avenue in the 100 block west. I and some neighbors who live on that side of Chapman wanted to keep the alcohol scene from expanding into that historic residential neighborhood. Enough people filed protests, so the application was withdrawn. Chronic Tacos thrived for about 10 years without alcohol.

The second venture as a “protestant,” as ABC calls us, was against CaliFire Grill. I don’t remember if they received a license, but they did not stay in business very long. They were succeed by “Grits” which in April 2016 did get a license to serve alcohol from 7:00 a. m. until 10:00 p. m. This was recently extended by our development department to 12:00 a. m. Having achieved extended hours, Grits has conveyed their license to “Café Patio” offering beer and soju, a clear, colorless distilled beverage of Korean origin, usually consumed neat, and its alcohol content varies from about 16.8% to 53% alcohol by volume (ABV), says Wikipedia.

Our third protest, wherein I discovered the smoking gun, was against “Spiked Paint,” located on the north side of the parking lot between Wilshire and Amerige Avenues, a venue for patrons to daub copies of pictures while drinking beer and wine. This protest was heard at the ABC headquarters in the state building in Santa Ana.

To prepare for the hearing, I read the California Business and Professions Code to learn the Alcohol Beverage Control rules. First, I learned that upon a person’s application for a license to serve or sell alcohol, ABC would notify the local city council and the local police department. On November 6, 2011, I hied myself over to city hall. I asked the administrative aide to the Fullerton city council, Eva Arevalo, what happened to such notices. “Upstairs,” she said, pointing ceiling-ward.

I trotted up to the second floor, Development Services. Bob St. Paul was on the desk that day. “What happens to the notices of applications for alcohol licenses?” I inquired. “I don’t know–I’ll check with Heather.” (Heather Allen, Planning Manager in 2012) He returned from the back room ten minutes later. “We trash ‘em,” he said. “You don’t forward them to the city council?” I asked. “Nope.” “You don’t send them to the planning commission?” “Nope.” “You don’t respond to them?” my eyebrows rising. “No,” St. Paul said, “We trash ‘em.”

I was to learn a different story at the ABC hearing.

Integration in the Fullerton Elementary School Districe 1970 to 1972

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  • A new superintendent came to town in September 1970.  D. Russell Parks finally retired and his reign of segregation was over.  First thing Superintendent Robert Crawford set about was to address the “ethnic imbalance” of the Fullerton Elementary School District.

    That was the cover story for closing Maple Elementary School.  “I never did understand why they closed Maple School,” said a woman who had been in the last Maple sixth grade class in 1972.

    The underlying reason for closing Maple was that the residents of the new and affluent neighborhood called President Homes wanted their own elementary school.  The nearest was Rolling Hills School.  The objection to that school by the President Homesians was that their children would have to cross Brea Boulevard, it was said.  But financing assistance from the state was allocated only on the basis of facility square footage per pupil.  Therefore, to get state financing, Fullerton Elementary District had to have less classroom space.

    Crawford’s  plan included the formation of a citizens advisory committee which was intended to recommend closing Maple School, 98.5% minority students.  Without a neighborhood school, all those students would be bussed to various other schools.  That ultimate plan was adopted by the school board, but rocks arose in the road to its achievement.

    I read of the intended committee in the Fullerton News Tribune, that representatives of local
    organizations would be appointed.*  I telephoned Lorril Senefeld, chair of the Fullerton Fair Housing Council, foundation of the later Orange County Fair Housing Council.  “Lorril,” I said, “The Fair Housing Council needs to be represented on that committee, and Mary Stewart would be an excellent person to be our representative.”

    Lorril called me back, said Mary  had declined and had said I would be an excellent representative.  “Well, ok,” I said.  And so started my second significant political education.  And put paid to Robert
    Crawford’s plan, as it happened.

    No one knew anyone else, among the citizens**–school district employees were included in the
    committee–but everyone knew John Jimenez, principal of Maple School.  The representative of a Rotary Club, Roland Hiltscher,  nominated him to be chair of the committee, and he was duly elected at our first meeting.  As I recall, Roland never came to another meeting.  “Idiot!” someone said to me later.  “When people don’t know each other in committee work, you elect an interim chair to serve until you do get to know who’s who.”

    We began in February 1971.   First thing we had done, at the behest of Peggy Martin, AAUW and Elizabeth Beebe, League of Women Voters, was to draft a statement of principles to be adopted by the Board of Trustees so that we could be clear as to what the Board policy was in regard to the obligations and expectations for our task.  Jimenez didn’t like that, but he could not block it.

 

School Choice

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Is there a month that goes by without an article in the Register about reforming public schools? Gloria Romero wrote her opinions September 10 and October 29, and more to come. She is, after all, an “education reformer.”

Gloria’s big thing is her “Open Enrollment” law. “Choice” is what parents should have, she and others advocate.

Fullerton elementary school district established “choice” for all of us in 1972 when Robert Crawford was superintendent. Unfortunately, then-superintendent Duncan Johnson took it away again in 1983.

Yes indeed, on May 9, 1972, the Fullerton Elementary School District Board of Trustees voted and adopted a policy that said parents who wanted a particular alternative style or approach to the education of their children could establish such a school and work with teachers to do so. The choices were suggested to be an open or “free school” mode, a more strictly disciplined model known as “fundamental” school or just stay with the middle of the road.

A group of parents took up that offer – they after all had initiated the demand for it – and implemented a free school model known as Community Open School. It was located at Maple School on Valencia Avenue. The school board had closed Maple for their one-way bussing solution to Fullerton’s segregated schools.

Ironically, some of those same parents had been on the District’s 33-member Human Relations Advisory Committee appointed to solve the integration problem, and that committee had overwhelmingly recommended to the Board that a system of choice be established and students assigned to schools on an integrated basis, with Maple School to remain a neighborhood school.

I was an essential trekker in both adventures, the Human Relations Advisory Committee and the establishment of Community Open School. And thus I acquired a great deal of political experience.