Controversy at Fresno Unified Board Meeting

FRESNO, Calif.

Next fall, the International Baccalaurette (IB) Program will move from Wawona Middle School on Thorne and Gettysburg, to Cooper Middle School on Bellaire and Hughes -- about two miles away.

As part of the plan, the school board approved a boundary adjustment Wednesday night as well as multiple feeder changes that will affect 21 campuses and hundreds of students.

Parents are upset because they say they were left out of the district's decision-making process. Many of them say a letter, sent out a little more than a week ago, was the first time they were notified about any changes to their children's school. Wednesday night that same letter sparked debate among board members, who questioned why the district didn't reach out to parents until after a decision was made.

The letter asks parents to notify the Fresno Unified "Office of School Choice" by February 29th to save a place at the IB Academy at Cooper Middle School next year. If they don't, it says they'll lose preference for future placement at that school or any other school in the district.

Wednesday night, about a dozen parents addressed the board.

"What you're hearing tonight from the misinformation, from the polarization -- that is an indictment of the process you've allowed this to occur under. What you need to do is plan this for not this August, but next August. And what you need to do is plan it for parents to understand what's to come and planning for the community to give input," said Anthony Pings with the Fig Garden Homeowners Association.

Despite the debate, the board voted 5-2 in favor of the boundary adjustment and feeder changes related to the conversion of the college prep program. A move it says will better balance enrollment in the Bullard, Edison, Fresno, Hoover And McLane attendance areas and create a seamless transition from the IB program at Dailey Charter to Cooper and eventually Fresno High School.

Despite a good turnout by opponents of the plan, there were plenty of parents who actually showed up to support the move.

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