Penelope DeLeon Superintendent Glendora CA.png

Penelope DeLeon | Glendora Unified Superintendent Named Woman of the Year

GLENDORA–Congratulations to Glendora Unified School District’s own Dr. Penelope DeLeon for being named 2022 Woman of the Year for Education for the 48th Assembly District.  Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio’s office announced recipients last week.

Dr. DeLeon joined Glendora Unified School District in March of 2020, appointed to the superintendency by a unanimous vote. She brings a wealth of experience to the position, including work as a classroom teacher, site administrator, and district leader. Her steadfast commitment to ensuring a powerful future for every child drives her work each day, as it has throughout her nearly three decades in education.

“We are thrilled with the announcement that Dr. DeLeon was selected by  Assemblywoman Rubio as Woman of the Year for Education in the 48th Assembly District,” Board President Robin Merkley said.  “She has led our district with courage, determination, resilience and grace during the past two years.  We are lucky to have such a leader in the Glendora Unified School District.”

Women of the Year from each Assembly District in California will be honored at a celebration later this spring. Each of them demonstrate consistent accomplishments that improve the quality of life in the communities they serve. One of Glendora’s legendary leaders, Dr. Cliff Hamlow, acknowledged Dr. DeLeon’s impact, writing,  “Congratulations to Dr. De Leon on her selection as the 48th Assembly District’s Woman of the Year for Education.  I am happy for the honor she has received during these difficult times for educators.”

Opening doors of opportunity for students, Dr. De Leon has earned accolades from them as well, according to  GUSD Student School Board Representative Nadia Bashier.  “Over the span of the last two years, Dr. DeLeon has become a huge role model for me. It’s empowering to see that a woman of multicultural background, like myself, can lead with such compassion and eloquence and I am constantly inspired to be like her as I continue to grow up, too.”

Shortly after learning of this tremendous honor, Dr. DeLeon said, “This [award] is  truly a testament to the extraordinary work of our teachers, staff, students, and community. The recognition feels even more rewarding considering what our schools and community have accomplished together in the midst of a pandemic.”

For more information about the Glendora Unified School District, you can visit  www.glendora.k12.ca.us.

Former Glendora Unified Superintendent Of Schools Penelope Deleon Joins Board Of Directors At Nonprofit Shoes That Fit

Shared by Penelope Deleon

(Los Angeles) California nonprofit Shoes that Fit is proud to welcome former Glendora Unified Superintendent of Schools and career educator Penelope (Penny) DeLeon to its Board of Directors.

DeLeon has over 25 years of experience in the field of education. Prior to Glendora Unified, she was the Superintendent of Schools for the Oxnard Union High School District. Among many professional recognitions, DeLeon was named State of California Woman of the Year for Education for Assembly District 48 in 2022. She received her Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne. Deleon also holds both a Master of Arts from California State University San Bernardino and a Master of Education from Northern Arizona University, as well an Undergraduate Degree in Spanish from the University of Redlands.

“We are thrilled to welcome Penny to the Shoes That Fit family. Her impressive experience and expertise is matched only by her compassion and desire to help all children succeed.” – CEO and Executive Director of Shoes That Fit – Amy Fass

“I am truly honored to join the Board of Directors at Shoes That Fit. I’ve dedicated my entire career in education to advocating for children facing all types of challenges. My involvement with this amazing organization will bring me even closer to kids who need and deserve extra support. I can’t wait to help children attend school in shoes that feel amazing to wear!” – Shoes That Fit Board Member – Penelope DeLeon

ABOUT SHOES THAT FIT:

A national 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Claremont, CA., Shoes That Fit tackles one of the most visible signs of poverty in America by giving children in need new athletic shoes to attend school with dignity and joy, prepared to learn, play and thrive. Named a California Nonprofit of the Year, Shoes That Fit delivered new athletic shoes to approximately 150,000 children in more than 1,500 schools across all 50 states last year alone. Help ensure that no child misses school because they don’t have shoes that fit by visiting our website: http://www.shoesthatfit.org.

Penelope DeLeon | Ventura County schools focus on creating connections and prioritizing emotional health

Students at Sinaloa Middle School

Students at Sinaloa Middle School walk to their next class in Simi Valley. The school has positive sayings throughout campus. It’s part of a program being used by districts across Ventura County to make students feel connected to school. | JUAN CARLO/THE STAR

There’s a warmth radiating from the walls at Sinaloa Middle School in Simi Valley. It envelops you with wide-open arms the second you step onto the campus.

From sayings on the wall like, “Everyday may not be a good day, but there is good in every day,” to the welcoming greetings from staff members, it’s hard not to feel like you matter. Like you belong.

That’s the point, leaders say — to make students feel connected to school. Districts and schools across Ventura County are constantly working to improve the school culture and social and emotional services available to make sure kids have the best experience possible.

There’s been a big push to use “social-emotional learning” strategies to teach and reinforce positive behavior in schools. In addition to that, some school districts are rolling out new support services and collecting data to better serve their student populations in terms of their social and emotional needs.

Experts say caring for the “whole child“ has the potential to prevent violence at school, increase academic performance and prevent suicide. Each school district does it a little differently, based on their populations and needs — but every district in the county is doing something.

“We must address the whole child in order to make whole people,” said Claudia Frandsen, director of leadership support services at the Ventura County Office of Education. “We only get one chance with these kids, and we need to give them everything we can.”

‘Not letting one child go’

Districts have been implementing curriculum for social and emotional learning over the past couple of years. These curricula are designed to teach students self-awareness, social awareness, responsible decision-making, self-management and relationship skills.

There’s been an increased level of awareness both in districts and in the community about the potential impact social and emotional learning can have on a child. After school shootings, conversations often focus on the emotional support offered to students and the connections they build at school.

“They’re not letting one child go and getting deeper into them as people,” Frandsen said. “And if they need more help, then we can identify that. One of the Columbine moms has started an organization … and she feels that if we reach all kids soon enough, we can prevent much, not all, but much, of the needless violence of people that feel like they have nothing left to live for.”

Fostering those connections and modeling that behavior is all over Ventura County schools. Some teachers write notes to their students to start a day or a week on a positive note. Most schools have staff members greeting students at the start of a day, welcoming them to school and asking how they are. It’s the little things like that, Frandsen said, that can make a big difference in the long run.

“Everybody needs it,” Frandsen said. “You don’t know the one you are missing. You don’t know the suicide, you do not know — they all need this. And that’s why we need a curriculum or some way of doing it. You never know with a quiet one. The idea is that it’s the whole child and it’s everybody.”

Melissa Wantz, a teacher at Cabrillo Middle School in the Ventura Unified School District, said she views teachers as “first responders” who need to model empathy and teach coping skills “in real time.”

She has had several moments centered around gender, race and mental health in her classroom that prompted her to wonder how, or even if, she should respond. She said that in the past, she might have decided it wasn’t her responsibility, or she wouldn’t feel comfortable. She said she might have even felt like she didn’t have the five minutes to spare to check in with a student.

“I think there’s a lot at stake for the next generation and for our community,” Wantz said. “This generation needs to acquire the ability to treat each other and themselves with more care, to express their identities and beliefs within a diverse yet cohesive community. And they need role models and lots of practice being empathetic and civil under pressure.”

She said students need to learn that a healthy community is something they contribute to, something they create. It’s not something that’s inherited from generations past. It’s not a given.

“Choosing to insert myself into these types of conversations about race, gender and mental health with my students as they arise in real time feels awkward and scary,” Wantz said. “I’m not a trained counselor, and I worry I’ll say the wrong words and make things worse. But I tell myself at least the kids know that I see them and that I care. Doing nothing is not an option anymore.”

Brand-new services and supports

In the Ventura Unified School District and Oxnard Union High School District, there are new supports for students this year, placing an emphasis on more robust social and emotional services.

Oxnard Union hired nine student intervention specialists — one at each campus — whose job is to be a hub for resources available to students and families who need extra support.

“If we can’t get to the heart of why our kids aren’t succeeding, it doesn’t matter,” said Penelope DeLeon, superintendent in the Oxnard Union High School District. “I think we can help our kids a lot more significantly if we are able to really get to some of those human reasons that kids struggle, and a lot of times it’s things that are out of our control, but we have to do our best to provide them with the support they need.”

At Camarillo High School, a wellness center has been set up for students. Principal Kim Stephenson said the position is evolving, but the student intervention specialist is designed to offer additional layers of support to students on campus and even potentially refer students and families to outside assistance such as therapy or grief counseling. Ultimately, it’s another space they can come to on campus and feel seen and heard and work through issues that may prevent them from succeeding at school.

“It’s all about setting kids up to be successful after school,” DeLeon said. “And really, truly, help our students to be ready for post-secondary when their daily life has some kind of intervention that’s needed. Whether it be academic or social-emotional or behavioral. You have to take care of those basic human needs before people can really, truly be successful.”

In Ventura Unified, new this year is a student assistance program much like the existing BreakThrough program in the Conejo Valley Unified School District that helps students and their families successfully navigate the system. The counselors provide support to site staff to address students’ social-emotional needs, said former Superintendent David Creswell, who recently left the position. There are three new counselors for the high schools, he said.

“We are beginning a district initiative to provide a multi-tiered system of supports to our students,” Creswell said. “The (student assistance program) and counselors fit well within this roll-out. In term of various needs our students have like homelessness, foster care, trauma and mental health needs, those needs must be addressed in order for our students to access their education.”

Measuring success

In Simi Valley and in the Conejo Valley, the school districts have been working on collecting data to improve their social-emotional practices, services and layers of support.

Simi Valley has started working with Panorama Education, a company that helps educators use data to support each student’s needs, to improve the student experience. The district had surveys for students in all grade levels and will use that data to inform how educators move forward with social-emotional learning.

“Both students and teachers took surveys that will give us a starting point on where to begin the work at each of our schools on improving the social-emotional health of our students,” said Jason Peplinski, superintendent in Simi Valley Unified. Focusing on the students’ entire experience, as well as the academic experience, has become a district focus, he said. “Because we are already doing terrific things in our schools, this focus will allow our students to take their learning to a different level.”

The new data gives school leaders places where they could improve, based on student survey data, and it’s part of a larger push to focus on the social-emotional well-being of kids.

“Like anything, when you focus on a topic, usually you see gains in that area,” Peplinski said. “I have made it clear to our staff across the district that this is something I want us all focused on.”

At Sinaloa, Principal Bradley Torti said the staff incorporates the emotional well-being of students into a lot of daily routines. He said there is a tradition at Sinaloa of making sure students feel a strong connection to their middle school and to teachers and staff members. They start every year with a literal red carpet to welcome students to the school, as the staff cheers them along.

“We’ve taken an approach that says we need to look at the students’ fundamental needs before we can engage them with their educational needs,” Torti said. “Before we can even ask students to learn things, we need to know: Are you hungry? Are you worried about something? It’s hard to ask someone to learn new knowledge or to be creative with new tools if they’re worried about something at home or if they don’t feel like they belong where they are.”

But at Sinaloa, the student survey data suggests the school and its staff are forging that sense of connection and belonging at school, Torti said.

“What our results suggested was this legacy of supporting student engagement and student involvement has paid off. Students feel pretty well-connected to their school,” Torti said.

In the Conejo Valley, Superintendent Mark McLaughlin and Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services Lisa Miller say supporting the social and emotional needs of students is a priority.

In the 2017-2018 school year, Conejo Valley Unified provided targeted social-emotional supports to more than 1,300 students, according to data shared at a recent school board meeting. The district also added a Local Control Accountability Plan goal centered on social-emotional and physical well-being for students in early 2018.

The collection of data on students who are accessing these targeted services, like the district’s BreakThrough program and other supports, started last year and provides valuable information on student needs and how to align services and supports to meet those needs, Miller said.

“I think we knew the mental health needs are increasing substantially in school districts, and I’m aware enough to know that data informs allocation,” Miller said. “Mental health has certainly become a part of education.”

Penelope DeLeon | Pacifica High football players receive state championship rings in unorthodox ceremony

The big reveal didn’t arrive during a pregame ceremony or after a red-carpet celebration.

Caleb McCullough was in the passenger seat of his father’s Chevy pickup truck when he finally got his hands on his state championship ring.

“Now that I can look at it and know that I’m going to have it for years to come,” McCullough said. “That’s what matters to me.”

Members of Pacifica High’s 2019 CIF-State Division 2A championship football team received their rings in the school parking lot May 1.

“Opening the box and seeing it for the first time,” quarterback R.J. Maria said, “that’s a moment we’ll remember forever.”

Rather than the ceremony planned, which involved rewatching the state championship game at Plaza Stadium Cinemas 14 in downtown Oxnard, the Tritons were invited to pick up their rings outside the school.

“The rings were so nice and beautiful,” Pacifica principal Ted Lawrence said. “We knew the kids would rather have them on their fingers than wait a few months.”

McCullough, now a freshman at Arizona State, was wearing a blue Dallas Cowboys mask in the Pacifica High parking lot.

“To be honest, just getting the ring is special to me,” McCullough said. “We already won state. We already had the big celebration. Just getting the ring is all that matters. I wasn’t really looking forward to a ceremony.”

Students were spaced out by position groups over an hour period as school administrators attempted to adhere to social distancing rules.

“We were planning on it being a little more structured,” head coach Mike Moon said. “It was just getting the rings to the kids. Hopefully, we’ll do something to celebrate them as a group.”

Pacifica High became the first area public school to win a state football title with a 34-6 victory over McClymonds in the Division 2-A bowl

The line never grew to more than four players, according to Moon.

“When they were near us, they were doing the right things, Moon said. “But you can tell they miss their buddies.”

Pacifica scored a Ventura County-record 784 points last fall over its historic 15-1 season, which included CIF-Southern Section Division 6, CIF Division 2-A state regional, and CIF Division 2-A state championships.

Within days of the Tritons’ 34-6 win over Oakland-McClymonds at Cerritos College in December, Oxnard Union High School District Superintendent Penelope DeLeon announced at a school board meeting that the district had received donations from local businesses and community members that would cover the cost of the rings.

The delivery of the rings was only slightly delayed by the pandemic as Jostens focused on producing protective masks for school personnel, according to Moon.

“Everybody is struggling through this,” Moon said. “We can’t hug the kids. We can’t celebrate with the kids. … We’re just a football team getting state championship rings. We get it.”

For a moment, however, they were able to relive some good memories with some familiar faces.

“They loved it and it was really great as a principal to have kids on campus again,” Lawrence said.

Joe Curley covers high school, college and professional football for the Ventura County Star. He can be reached at joe.curley@vcstar.com.

Penelope DeLeon | Hueneme High sees highest number of college-bound seniors in school’s history

 

graduate from Hueneme High School

Of the 469 students who will graduate from Hueneme High School on Friday, 356 have plans for college, the military or a trade program.

This year, south Oxnard’s Hueneme High School has its highest-ever percentage of graduates with a post-secondary plan, according to school officials.

Of the 469 graduating seniors, 356 students, or 76 percent, have registered for community colleges or universities or have committed to the military or a trade program for next fall.

Seniors have a ‘plan for the fall’

Principal Adrian Ayala said of the students graduating, 175 had met university entrance, or A through G, requirements and 80 of those students had committed to a university. The biggest percentage of graduates are headed to local community colleges, with 250 students committed to Oxnard, Ventura or Moorpark colleges. The 2018 graduating class also has 20 students committed to entering the military or a trade program.

“When they graduate, they have a plan for the fall,” Ayala said. “This is the highest number Hueneme has seen.”

To honor the students’ accomplishments, the school held its first-ever signing day last month.

“We wanted to celebrate the seniors and the colleges that have accepted them for the fall,” Ayala said.

Hueneme High is located in a more socioeconomic disadvantaged part of Oxnard and more than 90 percent of the student body is Latino, Ayala said.

“This is life-changing for one of our poorest communities,” said Oxnard Union High School District Superintendent Penelope DeLeon. “This is a social-economic movement.”

A college-bound culture

DeLeon has been spearheading a charge since she took the helm at the district in May 2016 to push a college-bound culture. That was solidified when the district board voted recently to align the university entrance requirements with the graduation requirements. The policy also carves a path for students with an interest in career technical education.

“This is the reason I even do this work. For me, it’s the thrill of seeing students reach their potential,” DeLeon said. “It’s a demonstration of what can be done when we push for powerful futures for every child and post-secondary options for every child.”

It’s a demonstration of what can be done when we push for powerful futures for every child and post-secondary options for every child.

PENELOPE DELEON

DeLeon said it was made possible through the hard work of the students and through the efforts of teachers, counselors and administrators engaging students and making sure they are aware of their options.

“This result is the combined effort of so many people supporting our students, our army of dedicated adults supporting our students to achieve greatness — their own individual greatness,” DeLeon said.

For Hueneme senior Alyssa Cazares, finding out that 76 percent of her graduating class had a post-secondary plan was “shocking,” but in the best way.

“At Hueneme High School, we are known for having a bad reputation because we aren’t really in a safe area,” said Cazares, youth council president for Future Leaders of America. “It really warms my heart seeing our senior class prosper like this. We can definitely continue our education.”

Seniors set example for underclassmen

Cazares, who will head to UC Berkley in the fall, said the 356 seniors gathered May 15 in the school’s gym, where they were honored for their accomplishments as underclassmen looked on.

The seniors were to serve as an example, she said, as proof that the freshmen, sophomores and juniors could do it, too.

“They were basically just showing that if a lot of our seniors are going to college after they graduate, that can be them in the future, as well,” Cazares said.

Penelope DeLeon | Oxnard’s newest high school breaks ground

del-sol-high-school

Senerey De Los Santos (KEYT)

OXNARD, Calif. – The newest high school in Ventura County broke ground Wednesday afternoon.

Del Sol High School will be the newest school in the Oxnard Union High School District. Dignitaries from the district and the city gathered to celebrate the milestone that was 15 years in the making.

The school is located on the corner of Camino Del Sol and Gibraltar Street in Oxnard.

Del Sol is the eighth high school in Oxnard, and the city says they have been in desperate need of another.

Oxnard Union Superintendent Penelope DeLeon called the district over crowded, “Right now Pacifica High School, our largest high school is 3,200 students and it was built for 2,300 students. That is 900 kids crowded into a school portables everywhere.”

Other neighboring high schools are also overcrowded. The district is over enrolled by nearly 2,000 students. Del Sol High School is expected to open in August 2022.

Funding for the new school is coming from Measures A and H.

Penelope DeLeon | Inspired by the sun, Oxnard Union trustees agree on high school name pick

Oxnard Union High School District board

The Oxnard Union High School District board agreed to the name of a new school on Wednesday.

It didn’t matter that Oxnard is known for its marine layer or that winter has nearly arrived, school board members on Wednesday sided with the sun.

In a unanimous vote, Oxnard Union High School District trustees picked the name Del Sol High School for the new campus slated to open in 2022. The name, one of two choices recommended by a citizens advisory committee, is Spanish and means “of the sun.”

“I find that it’s a very bright name,” said Trustee Bea Herrera. “That is what our new high school should be for all the students who attend that school, a bright and shiny place.”

Following the vote on the school name, trustees also approved the purchase of nearly 53 acres of land at Camino del Sol and Rose Avenue, site of the new Oxnard school.

The district will buy the agricultural fields known as the Maulhardt property for approximately $26.9 million. In addition to being the site of the new school, the property is slated to be developed into an “urban village” with commercial and park space as well as high-density apartments.

The school district expects to close escrow next month. Construction of the new school is expected to begin summer of 2020.

Funding for the new school comes from Measure H, a $135 million bond passed by voters in 2004. Measure H also paid for Rancho Campana High School, which opened in Camarillo in 2015.

The $26.9 million land purchase is the last of Measure H money. In June 2018, voters approved Measure A, a $350 million bond for improvements at all of the district’s schools.

Board members applauded following the separate votes approving the school name and land purchase.

rendering of a new high school

A rendering of a new high school slated for the Oxnard Union High School District. COURTESY OF THE OXNARD UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT

“It feels real now. We’re really going to open a new high school,” said Superintendent Penelope DeLeon.

Trustees agreed to name the school Del Sol following a monthslong process that included brainstorming by an advisory committee, an online survey and a town hall.

Nearly 3,500 votes were cast in the survey, which offered the options of Del Sol, Heritage Grove and Topa Mountain high schools. Del Sol got the most votes with 48% of the vote.

The committee ultimately recommended Del Sol and Heritage Grove to the board. The committee also considered some of the 376 write-in names on the survey. Some notable ones were Colonia, Gold Coast and Mugu Lagoon high schools.

Some in the community that favored names other than Del Sol pointed out that the newest Rio School District K-8 campus is Rio Del Sol School. Trustee Karen Sher said it’s common for similar communities to share similar school names and it shouldn’t dissuade the board from picking a name that got the most votes.

Wendy Leung is a staff writer for the Ventura County Star. Reach her at wendy.leung@vcstar.com or 805-437-0339. You can also find her on Twitter @Leung__Wendy.

Penelope DeLeon | Oxnard Union to change graduation requirements to align with college entry prerequisites

Oxnard Union High School District headquarters.

The Oxnard Union High School District board unanimously voted to align graduation and university entrance requirements and passed a resolution adding ethnic studies to the district’s required curriculum.

“The new graduation requirements are not simply an educational movement but a powerful step toward social and economic progress for our community,” district Superintendent Penelope DeLeon said in an email after last week’s vote.

The university entrance requirements, or A-G requirements, are rigorous courses designed to better prepare students for college and are required to get into a University of California or California State University school. In the past, those requirements have differed from graduation requirements.

In addition to the updated graduation requirements, which the district hopes will create a college-going culture in all schools, the board passed a resolution adding ethnic studies as a graduation requirement.

DeLeon said the ethnic studies course will be required of all ninth-graders. The change will be implemented in the 2020 school year, according to the resolution.

Ethnic studies are something students and educators alike have been pushing for in the district. A 2016 bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown mandated the development of statewide high school ethnic studies curriculum, which is slated to be finished in 2019.

A bill recently passed the Assembly Education Committee that would make ethnic studies a graduation requirement, according to the resolution.

The graduation requirements will affect the Class of 2024  or current sixth-graders.

DeLeon said the district is the first in Ventura County to align the requirements. The Los Angeles Unified School District aligned the A-G requirements with high school graduation requirements in 2006. Since then, there has been an increase in A-G completion among all the students in the district, at 54.9 percent in 2016.

In the 2016-17 school year, 34.2 percent of Oxnard Union High School District students, or 1,236 out of 3,610 students, graduated and met the California university entrance requirements, according to data from the California Department of Education. In the year before, the statistic was 27.1 percent, or 931 out of 3,434.

Students involved in Future Leaders of America rejoiced at the decision of the board; the move to A-G alignment is something theyve been after for months.

“As a Chicana myself, I understand the struggle, injustices and barriers that prevent true education equity,” Alyssa Cazares, a senior at Hueneme High School and youth council president, said in a news release. The A-G requirements “matter because our parents made sacrifices for us, youth, to have a better life and this has been a barrier for us to go to college. Now is the time for our voices to be heard and provide every high school student what they deserve: an opportunity to go to college.”

Changes in the policy include the number of credits required for science, up from 20 to 30 and the ethnic studies requirement, among others.

The district now will work to ensure there are systems of support in place for students to succeed in the rigor of the classes. Early intervention with students who are struggling will be key, district officials said at a previous board meeting.

“No longer will access to a CSU or UC be an issue, nor will youth be told, ‘This class is not for you,’” said Eder Gaona-Macedo, executive director of Future Leaders of America, in a written statement. “This is a big victory for Latino youth in Oxnard who encounter low expectations by others.”

Penelope DeLeon | School security upgrades planned at four high schools in Oxnard Union district

Four high schools in Oxnard and Camarillo are in the process of making major security upgrades to their front lobbies and across their campuses with funding provided by Measure A.

The four Oxnard Union High School District schools include: Adolfo Camarillo, Channel Islands, Hueneme and Rancho Campana high schools.

The upgrades are estimated to cost $475,000 among the four schools, and each school has already received bids from potential contractors to perform the security upgrades.

Other Oxnard Union schools such as Pacifica High School and Oxnard High School are also seeking upgrades to their front offices. The district has begun soliciting bids for the work at the two high schools and will close out the bid process Nov. 21.

Students arrive to school on Friday

Students arrive to school on Friday, entering through the office and back gates at Hueneme High School. The school is one of four in the Oxnard Union High School District that will undergo security upgrades.

Measure A was a $350 million school bond passed in June 2018. The purpose of the funding was to provide overall upgrades to the eight high schools in the district, from adding air conditioning to stepping up security. Front lobbies form a major part of the school security upgrade plans, as they are often the first entry point for visitors arriving on campus.

Oxnard Union Superintendent Penelope DeLeon said the upgrades are being done in response to incidents of school violence reported throughout the country.

“We want to control who comes in and out of our schools,” DeLeon said.

Some of the upgrades sought include installing new doors, reinforcing walls and adding bulletproof windows, as well as integrating a security system called Raptor.

students arriving Friday

Lead campus supervisor Isaiah Coleman greets students arriving Friday at the back gate at Hueneme High School. The school is one of four in the Oxnard Union High School District that will undergo security upgrades.

The Raptor school security system would require guests to present a form of identification, which is swiped and checked with a database to see if the person has any prior criminal convictions. Depending on the security parameters outlined by the system, the visitor would either be printed a badge with their face on it or denied entry to the school.

Upgrading the front administrative offices are only one component of the overall security upgrades sought by the school district. Other site security projects are updating the surrounding fencing and barriers to schools, adding locks to classroom doors, improving lighting on school campuses, upgrading school public announcement systems and updating parking lot security.

Multiple bidders are vying for each of the four lobby projects, according to Jeff Weinstein, Oxnard Union’s assistant superintendent of business services. Once the bids are chosen, a more concrete timeline can be made regarding when the upgrades will take place.

“While we understand that this may be an inconvenience for some, we believe this is necessary for protecting our children and that is our first and foremost concern,” DeLeon said.

Jeremy Childs is a breaking news and public safety reporter covering the night shift for the Ventura County Star. He can be reached by calling 805-437-0208 or emailing jeremy.childs@vcstar.com.

 

 

Penelope DeLeon | Oxnard Union High School District spends millions on upgrades

  • Oxnard High School School District
    Oxnard High School School District gets upgrades

OXNARD, Calif. — The Oxnard Union High School District is giving all of the schools in their district a makeover.

The district is spending nearly $500 million on their high schools and the projects would be completed in time for graduation.

This is game changing for our kids, said Dr. Penelope DeLeon, who is the Oxnard Union High School District Superintendent. Our kids are going to have premier high school facilities from top to bottom.

DeLeon says all of the high schools will be transformed into state of the art school grounds. Up first Camarillo, Hueneme, and Pacifica high school where stadium renovations are in full swing.

Our schools are getting new artificial turf fields, said DeLeon. They are also going to be getting scoreboards, new goal post, some of them will be getting new snack bars. They will all be getting Victory Arches.”

The football stadiums should be done right before gradation. After that stadium renovations will start at Rio Mesa, Channel Islands and Oxnard high schools. The projects also include installing air conditioning units and making major security upgrades.

So that means brand new secure lobbies with locking doors where people can not go to where the students are, said DeLeon. People will have to check in and scan their ID when they come in, new fencing, and new digital cameras.

I need to ensure when parents send their kids to Pacifica high school that I can keep them safe, said Ted Lawrence, who is the principal at Pacifica High School.

The upgrades will cost nearly 500-million dollars, 350-million of that will be covered by Measure A, State funding, and left over money from previous measures.

“I want to see the looks on my kids faces when they walk into an air conditioned classroom, when they see the new lobby that will keep them safe, said Lawrence.

People are going to want to come to Oxnard Union High School because they will have the best schools anywhere in this county, and I will put us up against the State when we are done with this, said DeLeon.

For more information you can log on to the district website at www.oxnardunion.org.

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