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Vocal crowd makes impact at CUSD board meeting

Claremont Unified School District’s school board held its first regular meeting of the 2017-18 school year last Thursday, and a crowd of protesters dominated proceedings.

Pasadena resident Anne Bigley led a contingent of about 30 people wearing lime green shirts with a photo of her disabled son Christopher Frealy and the words “Let him learn.”

Ms. Bigley claimed that Christopher, 10, was promised a spot in CUSD’s Sumner-Danbury Elementary School for orthopedically impaired students this academic year, but was later told he could not attend. He is currently being homeschooled.

“You can imagine how hard it was for Christopher to be told way back in February that he was going to third grade at Danbury by the principal,” Ms. Bigley told the school board, “only to find out on the last day of second grade in June someone messed up the paperwork and he was no longer welcome there.”

Ten more supporters, some from Claremont, spoke during public comment pleading with the school board to “let Christopher learn.”

Thirty-five minutes later, the packed crowd of Christopher’s supporters exited—along with the CBS reporter interviewing Ms. Bigley—and the board continued with its agenda. The school board could not comment on the protester demands because they were not on the agenda, according to the Brown Act.

District students recognized

Two high school student board members—Emily Marks of Claremont High and Emmanuel Martinez of San Antonio High—were sworn in, and took their seats at the front of the room next to the school board members.

Claremont High students Carlos Aceytuno-Lopez and Milton Hwang were recognized by Superintendent Jim Elsasser for designing art on the outside of the school’s nutritional services vehicles.

“If you see the vehicles out and about around Claremont, you’ll see them wrapped in beautiful and appropriate art work,” Mr. Elsasser said.

Recent CUSD graduate Bryan Brown, now a freshman at University of California, Santa Barbara, was honored for receiving one of four $2,500 Frederick M. Roberts California Legislative Black Caucus scholarships.

New special education analyst hired

The board unanimously approved the hiring of Cheri Vandermey as a board certified behavior analyst after she “emerged as the highest-qualified candidate” over 17 other applicants, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Kevin Ward said.

Ms. Vandermey spent four years as a behavior analyst at the LeRoy Haynes Center in La Verne, which serves children with autism, learning disabilities and other special needs. Prior to that, she spent three years working in special education for the Long Beach Unified School District, and is an adjunct professor at California State University, Los Angeles.

“She has exceptional references and will be an outstanding addition to the CUSD special education team in support of our students with behavior needs,” Mr. Ward said.

—Kellen Browning