MUSD Se Declara ‘Zona Segura’ para Inmigrantes

December 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

En un esfuerzo por proteger a los estudiantes indocumentados y a otras comunidades vulnerables de las amenazas de deportación, los funcionarios de Montebello Unified aprobaron convertirse en un “distrito de santuario” y en una “zona segura”.

“Nuestra decisión pondrá en marcha programas y procedimientos que protegerán a nuestros estudiantes de cualquier esfuerzo para determinar su estatus legal, orientación sexual y otras formas de información personal”, dijo Ben Cardenas, miembro de la Junta Directiva del MUSD.

MUSD sirve a las ciudades de Bell Gardens, Commerce, Montebello y porciones del Este de Los Ángeles, Monterey Park y Pico Rivera – todas hogares de grandes poblaciones de inmigrantes.

Con la inauguración del presidente electo, Donald Trump, muchos están preocupados de que él cumpla con su promesa de deportar a millones de inmigrantes indocumentados.

Esa amenaza de deportación y la posible separación de uno o ambos padres, u otros miembros de la familia “pueden tener un efecto escalofriante en un niño, crear estrés e impactar su concentración en el aula”, dijo Cardenas.

La declaración permitirá que el Distrito proteja los datos y las identidades de los estudiantes, miembros de sus familias o de los empleados de la escuela. La divulgación a agencias federales para propósitos no relacionados con la educación no serán permitidas.

Bajo el nuevo estado de santuario y la designación de zona segura, se le prohibirá al personal del Distrito cuestionar a los estudiantes sobre su estatus migratorio o el participar en cualquier otro esfuerzo de aplicación de la ley de inmigración. El distrito también creará un comité educativo de la igualdad.

Es imperativo que el Distrito aplique este tipo de procedimientos para minimizar el impacto en los estudiantes del Distrito, a sus familias y al personal de cualquier nueva política adoptada por una Administración Trump, dijo la Junta Directiva Joanna Flores.

“El distrito debe esforzarse siempre para combatir el racismo, el sexismo y otras formas de parcialidad y asumir la responsabilidad de proporcionar oportunidades educativas iguales a todos los estudiantes”, dijo la presidenta de la Junta Directiva MUSD, Lani Cupchoy, durante la reunión del 15 de diciembre.

Bajo el veredicto de la Corte Suprema Plyler V. Doe, se le prohíbe a los gobiernos estatales y locales excluir a niños indocumentados de obtener una educación pública gratuita.

La “zona segura” también protegerá a las comunidades LGBTQ, a mujeres, y a las minorías políticas entre otros.

“Más allá de la educación, nuestros estudiantes y familias necesitan saber que el distrito también está luchando por sus derechos constitucionales y por su calidad de vida”, dijo Flores.

Montebello Unified Declares Immigrant ‘Safe Zone’

December 27, 2016 by · 2 Comments 

In an effort to protect undocumented students and other vulnerable communities from threats of deportation or other potential federal actions, Montebello Unified officials have voted to become a “sanctuary district” and “safe zone.”

“Our decision today will put in place programs and procedures that will shield our students from any efforts to determine their legal status, sexual orientation and other forms of personal information,” said MUSD Boardmember Ben Cardenas.

With President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration approaching, many are worried he will follow through with his promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants. MUSD serves the cities of Bell Gardens, Commerce, Montebello and portions of East Los Angeles, Monterey Park and Pico Rivera – all home to large immigrant populations. The threat of deportation and potential separation from one or both parents, or other family members “can have a chilling effect on a child, create undue stress and impact a child’s ability to concentrate in the classroom,” Cardenas said.

The declaration will allow the District to protect data and the identities of students, family members or school employees from disclosure to federal agencies for purposes not related to education.

Under the newly adopted sanctuary, safe zone designation, District personnel will be prohibited from asking students about their immigration status or participating in any other immigration enforcement effort. The District will also create an educational equality advisory committee to to consider the impacts immigration issues and policies will have on the district.

It is imperative the District put these types of procedures in place to minimize the impact on District students, their families and staff of any new policies adopted by a Trump Administration, said Boardmember Joanna Flores

“The district must always strive to combat racism, sexism and other forms of bias and assume a responsibility to provide equal educational opportunity to all students,” said MUSD Board President Lani Cupchoy during the Dec.15 meeting when the action was taken.

Under the Plyler V. Doe Supreme Court ruling, state and local governments are prohibited from excluding undocumented children from obtaining a free public education.

The “safe zone” will also protect LGBTQ communities, women, political minorities and others.

“Beyond education, our students and families need to know that the district is also fighting for their constitutional rights and their quality of life,” Flores said.

 

Familias Necesitadas en Montebello Reciben Alegría Navideña

December 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

121916_musd_gifts1crop

Foto: Cortesía de MUSD

Docenas de familias sin hogar recibieron juguetes, libros, y latas de comida durante el evento inaugural, “Families in Transition Gift Giveaway” el 9 de diciembre en la Escuela Laguna Nueva parte del Distrito Unificado Escolar de Montebello.

Durante el evento, padres identificados sin hogar tuvieron la oportunidad de escoger regalos y entregárselos a sus hijos en estos tiempos festivos.

Los regalos fueron proveídos por el “Programa Familias en Transición” gracias a donaciones de la Supervisora del Condado de Los Ángeles, Hilda Solís, el Senador Estatal de California Tony Mendoza, del Departamento de Transportación Unificado de Montebello y de la Oficina del Distrito de Montebello.

El Programa de Familias en Transición tiene como misión el proveerle servicios de apoyo a los 972 estudiantes que se han identificado sin hogar en el MUSD juntamente con sus familias para promover el logro académico.

Culinary Students Build Gingerbread House Village

December 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

In what’s become an annual tradition, Bell Gardens High School Culinary students kicked off the holiday season by showing off their baking and cake decorating skills by building an entire village of gingerbread houses.

Over 80 students attending the Culinary Hospitality Opportunity Pathway (CHOP) participated in the 5th annual fundraiser held Dec. 9, where more than $1,000 was raised to buy chef jackets and uniforms for students in the program.

The fanciful creations filled an entire classroom, creating a towering neighborhood made out of gingerbread, cookies and colorful frosting.

Some of the creations were as tall as a wedding cake; others took over a month and a half to bake and build.

(MUSD)

(MUSD)

“These students are doing much more than just cooking,” said Elizabeth Kocharian, lead teacher for CHOP. “Our students use geometry and algebra skills to calculate the sizes of the gingerbread walls, engineering to keep them up and design skills to decorate the house.”

BGHS CHOP senior Cynthia Bernal said she really enjoyed making her house and knowing she could create something like this by herself.

“Our houses are all different because we put some of our own background and heritage into it,” Bernal said.

The top three gingerbread houses will be displayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Montebello. Winners include: Alexander Castillo’s “Peppa Pig Village” in first place; Jazmin Ramos’ “Farm Stand and Bakery” in second place, and in third place, Dominic Jimenez’ “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

 

MUSD to Undergo Forensic Audit

December 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

After receiving several phone calls from Montebello Unified employees alleging fraud and misuse of school district funds, Board Member Ben Cardenas has called for a full forensic audit of MUSD’s finances.

“There was enough to merit a closer look,” he told EGP, explaining he hopes an audit will clear any doubts about the school district’s financial practices.

“The nature of the allegations was important,” he said,

Cardenas’ initial call for the audit came last week when he still held the title of MUSD board president. While the school board will not officially act on his request until its meeting tonight, according to newly appointed Board President Lani Cupchoy, district staff is already looking into firms with the expertise to conduct the work.

The forensic audit will exam MUSD’s accounting procedures, policies, priorities, spending protocols and lines of authority and seek to uncover any theft of cash or inventory, fraudulent payments, corruption, conflicts of interest, bribery, extortion and misstatements.

Cupchoy told EGP conducting the audit would help reassure the public that the school district is being run properly, which is timely given that voters just approved a $300 million school bond in June.

“We are opening our doors,” she told EPG. “We owe it to the public.”

 New MUSD Board President Lani Cupchoy announces the district will undergo a forensic audit, following her appointment during the Dec. 8 meeting.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

New MUSD Board President Lani Cupchoy announces the district will undergo a forensic audit, following her appointment during the Dec. 8 meeting. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Cardenas also wants the district to set up a tip line where employees and others can anonymously report fraud without fear of retaliation.

“It seemed many [employees] were afraid of speaking out,” Cardenas told EGP.

News of the proposed audit comes on the heels of the controversial firing of Superintendent Susana Contreras-Smith and Chief Financial and Operations Officer Cleve Pell, a longtime MUSD administrator who has served in various upper-management positions, including co-superintendent.

The firing prompted someone to create musdcorruption.com, a website critical of the district that claims the two former administrators were actually fired because they tried to take a stand against corruption. The site also alleges MUSD’s attorney was replaced to hide the cover-up.

Earlier this year, the California School Employees Association (CSEA) Montebello Chapter 505 passed a “vote of no confidence” targeting the MUSD Chief Business Officer Ruben Rojas, who earlier this year was briefly placed on paid administrative leave for what was only described as a personnel issue.

CEA’s no confidence vote accuses Rojas of hiring personal acquaintances, lowering morale district-wide and not adhering to project labor agreements among other issues.

Residents and employees have also expressed disapproval of some contract bids approved by Rojas.

On Wednesday, however, MUSD released a statement announced that it has received a AAA rating from the Fitch Ratings Agency for the $100 million voter-approved school bond to be issued by the district. It’s the “highest possible credit rating any bond issue can receive, including those of the U.S. Federal Government and would save local taxpayers millions of dollar,” according to the announcement.

Rojas said the credit rating “is a testament to the strong fiscal management’ of the district. “We will continue to make smart fiscal decisions that will allow our schools to thrive,” Rojas said.

Cardenas would not divulge details of the allegations, claiming he does not want to prejudice the audit process or enter the realm of speculation. Regardless of the outcome, he said he believes the audit will help the board and public achieve a better understanding of the district’s budget, providing a deeper understanding of what needs to be done to make sure the district is operating efficiently.

“This is the best investment we can make,” he assured.

After hearing rumors of wrongdoing, Linda Nicklas, co-founder of the Montebello watchdog group MATCH90640, told EGP she’s looks forward to the audit.

“We need a independent audit, with absolutely no ties to anyone on the board,” she said.

Cupchoy told EGP she does not believe the audit paints the district in a negative light.

“It’s not something negative or wrong,” she said. “I see it as a safety net.”

Cupchoy told EGP that the district’s number one priority is making sure all money is used to serve its 29,000 students. A fiscal audit will provide guidance and ensure there is equity across the district, she said.

“The audit is not about the finances,” she told EGP. “It’s about investing back in our district.”

 

MUSD Será Objeto de Auditoría Forense

December 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Tras varias alegaciones de fraude y de mal uso de fondos del distrito de parte de los empleados del Distrito Unificado Escolar de Montebello (MUSD), Ben Cardenas miembro de la junta, ha pedido que se establezca una auditoría forense para examinar las finanzas del MUSD.

“Habían suficiente razónes para examinar el asunto más a fondo”, le dijo a EGP, explicando que espera que una auditoría elimine cualquier duda sobre las prácticas financieras del distrito escolar.

“La naturaleza de las acusaciones es importante”, dijo él.

La proposición inicial de Cárdenas para una auditoría se produjo la semana pasada, cuando todavía era presidente de la junta del MUSD. Mientras que la junta escolar no actuará oficialmente hasta la reunión del jueves 15 de diciembre, de acuerdo con la nueva presidenta de la junta, Lani Cupchoy, el personal del distrito ya está buscando a empresas a quien contratar para la auditoría.

Los analisis examinarán los procedimientos contables del MUSD, sus polizas, prioridades, los protocolos de gastos y las líneas de autorización. Finalmente tratarán de descubrir y exponer cualquier robo de dinero en efectivo o de inventario, pagos fraudulentos, corrupción, conflictos de interéses, soborno, extorsión y declaraciones equivocadas.

Cupchoy le dijo a EGP que la auditoría ayudará a tranquilizar al público asegurando que el distrito escolar está siendo administrado apropiadamente. La confirmación llegaría a buen tiempo ya que los votantes aprobaron un bono escolar de $300 millones en junio.

“Estamos abriendo nuestras puertas”, ella dijo a EGP. “Se lo debemos al público”.

Cárdenas también quiere que el distrito establezca una línea de sugerencias donde los empleados y otros puedan reportar de forma anónima el fraude sin temor a las repercusiones.

_mg_9215

Presidenta del Consejo del MUSD, Lani Cupchoy anuncia que el distrito será auditado, después de su nombramiento el 8 de diciembre. (Foto de EGP Por Nancy Martínez)

“Al parecer muchos [empleados] tenían miedo de hablar”, Cardenas le dijo a EGP.

Las noticias de dicha auditoría llegán tras el despido controversial de la Superintendente Susana Contreras-Smith y del Principal Oficial de Finanzas y Operaciones, Cleve Pell, un administrador del MUSD por años quien sirvió en varios cargos superiores, como el de co-superintendente.

El despido motivó la creación de musdcorruption.com, un sitio web que critica al distrito y afirma que los dos ex administradores fueron despedidos porque intentaron tomar una posición contra la corrupción. El sitio, cuyo creador es desconocido, también alega que el abogado del MUSD fue reemplazado para ocultar el encubrimiento.

A principios de este año, el Grupo 505 parte de la Asociación de Empleados Escolares de California de Montebello (CSEA) aprobó un “voto de desconfianza” dirigido hacia el jefe de negocios del MUSD, Rubén Rojas. Él recibió un breve permiso administrativo de ausencia con sueldo a principios de este año, lo que sólo se describió como una cuestión de personal.

El voto del CSEA en contra acusa a Rojas de contratar a personas conocidas para su personal, de reducir la moral de todo el distrito y de no adherirse a los acuerdos laborales del proyecto entre otros asuntos.

Residentes y empleados también han expresado su desaprobación de algunas ofertas de contrato aprobadas por Rojas.

Sin embargo, el miércoles MUSD anunció que ha recibido una calificación AAA de la agencia Fitch Ratings por el bono escolar aprobado por los votantes de $100 millones que será emitido por el distrito.

Es la “calificación crediticia más alta que cualquier emisión de bonos puede recibir, incluyendo las del Gobierno Federal de los Estados Unidos y les ahorrará a los contribuyentes locales millones de dólares”, declaró el anuncio.

Rojas dijo que la calificación “es un testimonio de la fuerte gestión fiscal” del distrito. “Seguiremos tomando decisiones fiscales inteligentes que ayudarán a que nuestras escuelas prosperen”, dijo Rojas.

Cárdenas no reveló los detalles de las acusaciones, alegando que no quiere perjudicar el proceso de la auditoría ni entrar en el ámbito de la especulación. Independientemente del resultado, dijo que cree que la auditoría ayudará a la junta y al público a lograr una mejor comprensión del presupuesto del distrito, proporcionando una comprensión más profunda de lo que se necesita hacer para asegurar que el distrito opere eficientemente.

“Esta es la mejor inversión que podemos hacer,” aseguró.

Después de escuchar los rumores de las supuestas infracciones, Linda Nicklas, cofundadora del grupo de vigilancia de Montebello MATCH90640, le dijo a EGP que espera con interés la auditoría.

“Necesitamos una auditoría que sea independiente, sin ningún vínculo con el consejo”, dijo.

Cupchoy le dijo a EGP que ella no cree que la auditoría es difamatoria para el distrito.

“Lo veo como una red de seguridad”, agregó.

Cupchoy también dijo que lo primordial para el distrito es asegurarse de que todo el dinero se este usado para servir a sus 29,000 estudiantes. Una auditoría fiscal proporcionará orientación y asegurará que haya equidad en todo el distrito, dijo ella.

“La auditoría no se trata de las finanzas”, le dijo a EGP. “Es una inversión en nuestro distrito”.

Southeast L.A. County Leaders React to Election

November 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By the time the polling booths closed Tuesday in California, Southeast Los Angeles County residents attending a “Bad Hombres and Nasty Women” election night party were already glued to their phones and TV screens, anxiously watching the electoral votes tally up against their candidate, Hillary Clinton.

The tongue-in-cheek event, hosted by Democrat Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia at The Bicycle Casino Hotel in Bell Gardens, was supposed to be a victory celebration, after all, almost all the polls earlier in the day had signaled victory for Clinton. Instead, a Donald Trump piñata sat untouched at the bar and a solemn mood persisted throughout the night.

At a Democratic "victory party' at The Bicycle Casino Tuesday, Hillary Clinton supporter Evamarie Balderas watches in disbelief as numbers fall into the win column for Donald Trump. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

At a Democratic “victory party’ at The Bicycle Casino Tuesday, Hillary Clinton supporter Evamarie Balderas watches in disbelief as numbers fall into the win column for Donald Trump. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Garcia kicked off the evening by asking attendees to stay focused and hopeful, despite Trump’s early lead.

“Irrespective of what happens we must show unity,” she told the crowd.

Yet, as the clock moved closer to midnight and projections for key battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Iowa brought Trump closer to the 270 electoral votes he needed to secure the election, the bar got busier as attendees struggled with disbelief.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” one person said.

“How did it get like this,” asked another in shock.

The local elected officials, campaign strategists and residents tried to do the math and tally the numbers, hoping for a Hail Mary victory for Clinton, but it was increasingly clear the night would not end as they’d hoped, and the impact would be far-reaching.

“This is a wake up call for our community and for our state,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard told the crowd as Trump’s lead continued to grow Tuesday. (EGP Photo by Nancy Martinez)

“This is a wake up call for our community and for our state,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard told the crowd as Trump’s lead continued to grow Tuesday. (EGP Photo by Nancy Martinez)

“Even if she wins, it’s very disappointing that someone who has dishonored our culture, insulted every minority, talked [disparagingly] about immigrants – and in spite of all that, so many people supported him …even Latinos,” a dismayed Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard told EGP .

The cloud from the presidential race made it difficult for elected officials at the event to celebrate their own victories: Garcia was reelected to serve the 58th District, Sen. Ricardo Lara will contine to serve the 33th District, Rep. Linda Sanchez, chair of the Hispanic Caucus, will once again represent District 38 in Congress and Roybal-Allard, the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress easily held on to her seat in the 40th District.

“This is a wake up call for our community and for our state,” Roybal-Allard told the crowd as Trump’s lead continued to grow. “Take tonight, regardless of turnout and use it as a foundation for building awareness, strengthening our community and being proud of being American.”

Rep. Linda Sanchez speaks to room full of Democrats Tuesday at the "Bad Hombres and Nasty Women" election night party in Bell Gardens. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Rep. Linda Sanchez speaks to room full of Democrats Tuesday at the “Bad Hombres and Nasty Women” election night party in Bell Gardens. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

In the early hours of the morning, business mogul and TV personality, and now President-Elect Donald Trump would rule the night, beating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, receiving 279 electoral votes to Clinton’s 228. Clinton was ahead in the popular vote.

Excerpts from EGP’s Election Night interviews:

Senator Ricardo Lara on electing more “nasty women and bad hombres:”

“We’re used to fighting,” he said. “We’re looking to elect more women and Latinos to state legislator.”

Rep. Linda Sanchez on being proud of California Democrats:

While campaigning in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona there were always “busloads of California Democrats [trying] to help turn those states blue,” she told the large crowd of Democrats. “As we’re still waiting for election results I know I did everything in my power before November to bring it home for Hillary Clinton.”

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard on Hillary Clinton’s Challenges:

“Part of what happened was the press and FBI Director [James] Comey,” she told EGP. “It was hard to recover from misinformation that was out; the FBI really undermined the election.”

On the U.S. Senate Race: “Its kind of sad that in the most Latino state we didn’t elect the Latina,” she said. “Southern California will not have reps in Washington.”

On Prop 64: “Given what’s happened in Colorado and facts from reputable, proven science that have shown marijuana negatively impacts the brain, there is just not enough research and safety regulations in place.”

On a Trump Presidency: “The reality is if Donald Trump wins the election I don’t know if he will follow through on what he promised like the wall and getting rid of immigrants,” she told EGP. “Everything is up in the air.”

Senator Tony Mendoza on what election means for State: “California will not change one bit, it stands alone and is trendsetter,” he said. “We have to set the example, nationwide we still need a lot of work to do.”

“Next session we have a lot of untouched issues, many that revolve around transportation.”

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia on increasing the number of women and minorities in the State Legislature: “I made a commitment to uplift other women,” she told EGP. “For women and women of color the work starts today to make sure our country looks more like California.”

On Prop 64: “There needs to be a change in the system,” she said. “My community is more likely get in trouble.”

Commerce Mayor Ivan Altamirano on Measure M:

“If it passes I’m hoping it will create a win-win and we can all sit at the table and start to fix our neighborhoods,” he told EGP. “In a way the repair of the 5 freeway was the main concern for Commerce, the expansion of the freeway needs to happen right, not 20 years from now.

Montebello Unified School Board Member Joanne Flores on Prop 51: “It will help us with funding tremendously,” she told EGP. “It will compliment funds we already have from our local bond that passed.”

MUSD Holds Mock Election

November 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Over 2,500 Montebello Unified high school students cast ballots for president, U.S. Senator and seven statewide measures during a district-wide mock election last month, ahead of the real election.

After studying their custom-made student voter guides and participating in assemblies and debates, students headed to the booths at each of their respective high school.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beat out Donald Trump in the mock presidential election, receiving 72 percent of the teenagers’ votes. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez received 68 percent of the votes, beating out Attorney General Kamala Harris for a seat in the U.S. Senate, according to the results.

In addition, all seven propositions, 51 (School Bonds), 54 (Legislative Transparency), 55 (Tax Extension), 56 (Cigarette Tax), 58 (Multiligual Education), 59 (Political Spending) and 67 (Plastic Bag Ban) all received over 59 percent approval.

“Very soon, our students will be full partners in the American democratic process, and it is imperative that they know how to diligently process the flood of information being disseminated by media outlets,” said Bell Gardens history teacher Joseph Lianoz said.

The mock election was held Oct. 11 and was sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla who wanted to expose youth to the democratic process. After casting their ballots, students received their own “I Voted” sticker.

“The next time they vote, it will be in an actual election and they will know exactly what to do,” said MUSD Program Specialist Laura Quintana

MUSD Opens New Homeless Student Resource Center

November 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether living in cars to couch surfing, nearly 1,000 students in the Montebello Unified School District experience homelessness daily.

The school district helps them and their families connect with food banks and other resources, and now plans to take the assistance a step farther by providing them with “essentials” on a weekly basis at a new resource center opened Wednesday in Commerce.

The new Families in Transition Resource Center is located at the former Laguna Nueva School, and the only school district-run facility for homeless students in the region.

School supplies, toiletries, gently used clothing, blankets, towels, pillows and other necessities will be made available every Wednesday to the 972 students and their families enrolled in the district’s Families in Transition Program. Parents will be given a voucher that allows them to go to the center and pick out items for their family.

“Unfortunately Los Angeles County has one of the largest homeless populations across the country,” points out MUSD Boardmember Joanne Flores, a former social worker.

A new resource center for homeless students attending the Montebello Unified School District, opened Wednesday at the Laguna Nueva School site in Commerce. (MUSD)

A new resource center for homeless students attending the Montebello Unified School District, opened Wednesday at the Laguna Nueva School site in Commerce. (MUSD)

“I can see how this is a concern for our communities.”

Although the district has been addressing homelessness for some time, it has not been a concentrated effort like the center, explains Program Specialist Aida Hinojosa,

“We want families to feel safe and comfortable,” she told EGP. “If families need something for their day-to-day living we will have it here.”

The District’s Families in Transition Program focuses on supporting students identified as homeless through a student residency questionnaire. Each school site currently has a liaison to help identify and support these vulnerable youth, according to the District.

The challenge is students do not always identify themselves as homeless, says Hinojosa, who explained being homeless doesn’t just apply to those living on the street or in a shelter.

According to the McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act, homelessness is defined as a student who does not have an adequate nighttime residence, which applies to living in a hotel, temporary housing or doubling up with another family. The Act ensures students experiencing homelessness attend school and are provided the support to succeed.

Students attending special education at the Laguna Nueva School site, join MUSD administrators to celebrate the grand opening of the Families in Transition Resource Center. (MUSD)

Students attending special education at the Laguna Nueva School site, join MUSD administrators to celebrate the grand opening of the Families in Transition Resource Center. (MUSD)

“We don’t have a lot of runaway or unaccompanied youth,” says Hinojosa. “The majority of our families are living doubled up with another family, but most don’t identify as homeless.”

In the past, the program provided referral support to families but was unable to provide actual resources.

Through fundraising, the center has now collected enough money and other donations to help facilitate the added assistance to the families. Funding for the center is made possible under the District’s Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP), which allocates funds to provide services to foster youth and homeless students.

A lack of storage space and manpower, however, is keeping the center from receiving larger quantities of products or opening the center more than once a week, according to Hinojosa.

MUSD students are doing their part to help support the center. Students attending special education at the Laguna Nueva site helped organize, size and hang clothing at the center.

Montebello High School volunteers will be washing and folding donated clothing this weekend and students at intermediate schools across the district have held toiletry and towel drives.

“Not only is this center about helping our homeless youth but it’s helping our students understand service and contributing to their community,” Hinojosa told EPG.

“It’s breaking down the stigma of being homeless.”

MUSD Abre Centro De Recursos Para Estudiantes Indigentes

November 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Algunos viven en carros y otros de sofá en sofá, pero todos son parte de los casi 1,000 estudiantes del Distrito Unificado Escolar de Montebello (MUSD) sufriendo con la indigencia día a día.

El distrito escolar los ayuda al igual que a sus familiares con bancos de comida y otros recursos. Ahora planean en expander su asistencia al proveerles artículos esenciales semanalmente en un nuevo centro que abrió el miércoles en Commerce.

El nuevo Centro de Recursos Para Familias en Transición se encuentra en la previa Escuela Laguna Nueva y es la única instalación manejada por el distrito escolar para estudiantes indigentes en la región.

Materiales escolares, artículos de aseo, ropa poca usada, cobijas, toallas, almohadas y otras necesidades serán ofrecidas, los miércoles, a los 972 estudiantes inscritos en el programa.

img_1111

Padres o familiares recibirán un cupón que les permitirá recoger los productos ofrecidos en el centro de donaciones. Foto: Distrito Unificado Escolar de Montebello.

“Desafortunadamente el Condado de Los Ángeles tiene una de las poblaciones de indigentes mayores a lo largo del país”, dijo Joanne Flores, miembro del consejo de MUSD y previa trabajadora social.

“Puedo ver como esto es preocupante en nuestras comunidades”, agregó.

A pesar de que el distrito ha estado lidiando con la indigencia hace tiempo, no ha sido un esfuerzo concentrado como el del centro, explicó Aida Hinojosa, especialista del programa.

“Queremos que las familias se sientan seguras y cómodas”, le dijo a EGP. “Si las familias necesitan algo para poder vivir de día a día, aquí lo tendremos”.

El Programa de Familias en Transición se enfoca en apoyar a los estudiantes que se han identificado como indigentes en un cuestionario de residencia estudiantil. Cada escuela actualmente tiene un enlace para asistir en la identificación de estos jóvenes vulnerables, de acuerdo al distrito.

Un problema común es que los estudiantes no siempre se identifican como indigentes, dijo Hinojosa, quien explicó que el serlo no solo significa vivir en las calles.

De acuerdo al Acta McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance, la indigencia estudiantil es definida por aquellos quienes no tienen residencias nocturnas adecuadas o fiables. Esto se aplica a aquellos que viven en hoteles, viviendas temporales o son alojados por familiares. El Acta asegura que los estudiantes asistiendo a las escuelas, en dichas condiciones deben ser proveídos el apoyo para triunfar.

“No tenemos muchos niños fugados o no acompañados”, dijo Hinojosa. “La mayoría de nuestras familias están siendo alojadas por otras pero no todos se identifican como indigentes”.

img_1188

Estudiante de educación especial de la Escuela Laguna Nueva participa en la organización del centro el 2 de noviembre. Foto: Distrito Unificado Escolar de Montebello.

En el pasado, el programa proveyó apoyo a las familias pero no pudo proveer recursos efectivos.

Por medio de la recaudación de fondos, el centro ahora ha colectado el suficiente dinero y en donaciones para ayudar a facilitar la asistencia a las familias. Los financiamientos para el centro fueron posibles bajo el Plan Local de Control y Responsabilidad del Distrito (LCAP por sus siglas en inglés), el cual recauda fondos para proveer servicios a jóvenes de crianza y a estudiantes indigentes.

La falta de almacenamiento y de personal, sin embargo, está obstruyendo la capacidad del centro de recibir mayores cantidades de productos y la posibilidad de abrirlo más de un día, dijo Hinojosa.

No obstante, los estudiantes de MUSD están haciendo su parte para apoyar al centro. Miembro del programa de educación especial en Laguna Nueva, por ejemplo, ayudaron a organizar y a colgar la ropa en el centro.

Voluntarios de la Escuela Secundaria de Montebello lavarán y doblarán la ropa donada este fin de semana y los estudiantes de las escuelas intermedias han sostenido eventos de donaciones de toallas y artículos de aseo.

“El centro no es solo para ayudar a los jóvenes indigentes sino que también está ayudando a nuestros estudiantes a entender el servicio comunitario”, le dijo Hinojosa a EGP.

“Está derrumbando el estigma de la indigencia”, añadió.

Next Page »

Copyright © 2017 Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews, Inc. ·