News

East Palo Alto board to study all school names — but first, Ravenswood Middle School

New naming subcommittee to tackle issue first raised by concerns over potential removal of Cesar Chavez Academy's name

The Ravenswood school district trustees voted unanimously on Thursday to form a board subcommittee to study and make recommendations on whether to change the name of Ravenswood Middle School in response to community concerns about the loss of a campus named after civil rights leader Cesar Chavez.

The new naming subcommittee will tackle this issue under a tighter deadline that has yet to be set, board members agreed, and then review all school names in the district.

Trustees Ana Maria Pulido and Marielena Gaona Mendoza, who have advocated for retaining Chavez's name, will serve on the subcommittee.

Community members voiced concerns this summer about the potential removal of Cesar Chavez Academy's name. Since Ravenswood Middle School opened in 2017, it shared a site with Cesar Chavez Academy, but this fall marks the first year that the new comprehensive middle school will operate as one entity, serving sixth through eighth grade students. The name Ravenswood Middle School never went through a formal naming process, as required by board policy.

The concerns about Cesar Chavez Academy sparked a proposal from Trustee Sharifa Wilson earlier this month to take the opportunity to scrutinize all school names.

But Pulido and Gaona Mendoza said they were concerned about embarking on a long, drawn-out process and wanted to address the Chavez issue first. Pulido suggested the board consider changing its renaming policy, if necessary, to do so.

They ultimately decided to form the board subcommittee and prioritize making a decision about the name of Ravenswood Middle School. Pulido has suggested they integrate the two names and call it "Cesar Chavez-Ravenswood Middle School."

In other business Thursday, the board approved a committee of more than 30 administrators, teachers, parents and community members who will be tasked with a major initiative for the K-8 school district— creating a new strategic plan — over the next four months. The committee had been a point of contention among board members, some of whom criticized the selection process as lacking transparency and the membership as unrepresentative. Interim Superintendent Gina Sudaria and a consultant hired to support the strategic plan process added 11 people to address these concerns, including parents and teachers to make sure all schools were included.

Pulido cast the sole dissenting vote against the committee's approval on Thursday because, she said, the appointed members (including her and board President Tamara Sobomehin) are voices the district often hears from.

"We need to draw from more perspectives, in my opinion," she said. "I feel they're too homogenous."

The trustees also directed staff to add two parents, one to represent the Voluntary Transfer Program, or Tinsley program, and another, East Palo Alto charters schools.

The committee will have its first meeting next Thursday, Aug. 29. The district plans to solicit further public input through focus groups, surveys and town halls. Top district leadership will also participate and give feedback in five meetings throughout the fall.

In response to Pulido and Wilson's concerns that the full board has more oversight into the committee's work, the process now includes five either special board meetings or one-on-one conversations with consultant Attuned Education Partners for trustees to weigh in, in addition to regularly scheduled board meetings.

Under a proposed timeline, the board members are set to see a draft strategic plan by mid-October and consider approving it in December.

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Comments

4 people like this
Posted by Am Still Here!
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Aug 23, 2019 at 12:04 pm

[Portion removed.]

LONG before this perpetration of changing My "Alma mater". It wasn't enough for the Previous Leaders in DESTROYING "RAVENSWOOD HIGH SCHOOL" instead of
Improving that School? It was decided that it would be ERASED!
That was the beginning of the destroying a COMMUNITY!
The Leaders tried Busing. That FAILED. Caucasian Teens could not tolerate being in a predominantly BLACK Town? As well the Blacks (getting up at 4am) were bused out, also Suffered ridicule at the Caucasian Schools
So they ERASED The Afrinisisity of The Black Students back then.
The STUDENTS that attended "RAVENSWOOD HIGH SCHOOL" still meet up once a month for breakfast.
(Michael Levin has been Instrumental in preserving the Old RAVENSWOOD).
We Are Still Here!

[Portion removed.]


26 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 23, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Just a respectful thought. With the many issues facing that school district with student achievement, faculty retention, and funding, this should be the least of the priorities. Another vivid example of symbolism over substance.


5 people like this
Posted by Too Late
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2019 at 2:37 pm

Too late. In another ten years EPA will be predominately East and South Asian. They’ll just change the name back again.


Like this comment
Posted by A Modest Proposal
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 26, 2019 at 2:59 pm

I generally don't see why we have to put people's names on everything, but how about a policy where schools are only named geographically, according to purpose/mission/specialization (tech, arts, etc), or for historical figures that have a *direct* connection to the area? Whatever name is chosen should be as inclusive as possible.

Also agree with Marrol -- this district has way more important priorities.

(Maybe they just should sell the naming rights? just joking! don't @ me!)


2 people like this
Posted by REALLY?
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2019 at 11:18 am

Failing schools. Dismal support for teachers on the front lines. Lack of leadership (yes, even with the new administration).

And the primary focus of the Board this week is school names?

Simple solution: name the middle school Cesar Chavez Comprehensive Middle School and move on to the important business. (Ah, that would be supporting teachers and education children if it is not so obvious to you.)

School has started. Kids are here. Changing a name should not be the main concern of the school board and administration right now.

An experienced board and experienced superintendent would have knocked this issue out of the park by now. Leadership lacking at all levels..

Ravenswood keeps its poor image alive! Congratulations board and administration.


PS Cesar Chavez Comprehensive (CCC could be used in many ways to promote the school's image. How about Caring Centered and Collaborative (CCC); or Concerned, Committed, Child centered (CCC); etc.

THIS DISTRICT NEEDS TO BRAND ITSELF OR IT WILL DISAPPEAR FROM MEMORY FOREVER!!!!!


Like this comment
Posted by Tuasosopo
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2019 at 6:59 pm

Just rename it Martin Chavez Middle School & be dome with it.


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