Documenter: Hannah Galindo

The Scene

This meeting of the Sanger Unified School District (SUSD) Board of Trustees was called into order on February 9th 2021 at 7 p.m. Meetings of the SUSD Board of Trustees take place every two weeks on Tuesday, with the next meeting occurring on February 23rd. All Trustees were in attendance, with Superintendent Adela Madrigal Jones, Deputy Superintendent Eduardo Martinez, Associate Superintendent Tim Lopez also in attendance. For the duration of the meeting, most trustees observed social distancing requirements and wore a mask — save for the occasional removal of Trustees’ masks for the sake of participation. Preceding the meeting’s opening, the Trustees and Superintendent(s) met for a closed session at 6pm, and disclosed necessary details before the members engaged in the saluting of the flag.


J. Student Representative Report

  • Student representative and Sanger High student President, John Peña, approached the board with updates on recent events occurring at Sanger High, including:

    • The return of Academic Decathlon and Cross Country teams to competitions; Peña noted that, as a student, it was “good to see” extracurriculars begin to make a return in this stage of the pandemic.

    • The recent “senior forum”, through which senior students at Sanger High participated in an open dialogue and expressed their ideas for how to improve their experience in high schools.

    • Sanger High’s upcoming “kindness week”, through which students will be encouraged to engage in random acts of kindness via social media such as thanking an adult who positively impacted their lives and supporting local business.

    • Upcoming yearbook pictures will take place in Rm 806 on Feb 16-19 from 1:30-5:30pm and Feb 22nd from 8am-3pm. Students are asked to wear a mask and follow dress code.

  • In bringing the updates to a close, John Peña expressed an eagerness on behalf of him and his classmates to return to class and an overall sense of normalcy.

K. Representative Comments

  • Presented with the opportunity to address the Board of Trustees, Sanger Unified Teachers Association (SUTA) representative, Stephanie Alvarado, spoke to inform the Board of the following:

    • A canned food drive and blood drive will be held within the district next week.

    • A negotiations team for SUTA will be meeting with the District to negotiate/update last year’s contract, with special attention being brought to Article 12 (transfers and reassignments) and Article 15 (Special Education). In addition to these updates, the SUTA team is asking for monetary support to be ongoing rather than the “one-time bonus” the district prefers to give staff members.

      • As the District has been, according Alvarado, rather unwilling to change the language and meet SUTA’s requests for monetary support, Alvarado is requesting the Board to encourage the District to be more open and flexible in negotiations at their next meeting.

L. Communication

  • Given the chance to address the Board with updates and events happening in SUSD, the following Trustees and SUSD Administration members mentioned the following:

  • Trustee Her: received a Kudos email from a parent congratulating Mr Nuños and his team at Del Rey elementary. He mentioned that his own son was enrolled at the dual-language program in SUSD, and noted that he has been truly impressed by the safety protocols implemented in order for students to return to campus. To Her and other parents, the team has been “a blessing through this difficult time”. 

    • Her also took a moment to acknowledge and thank all staff members for the incredible work ethic they have been displaying through the pandemic.

  • Board Clerk Wolfe brought attention to the campaign launched to honor NFL coach and recent NFL Hall of Fame inductee, Tom Flores, with a mural on 7th & M street. According to Wolfe, the mural will be completed this upcoming Thursday. In expressing her excitement that this project was coming to fruition, Wolfe also noted the many accomplishments that render Flores deserving of this mural, including his introduction of a blood drive at Sanger High; regular visits to meet and encourage childrenin Sanger; and using his small-town Sanger roots to go “above and beyond” in his career. 

  • Trustee Hernandez:

    • Expressed gratitude to all staff members working with children during the pandemic, especially thanking the teachers working with students for their exceptional “courage and dedication to learning”.

    • Asked staff members to share anything they have learned to help alleviate stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic with the Board and the broader community.

    • Asked staff members to continue lobbying politicians to help obtain the vaccinations for Sanger — especially for teachers and classified employees.

    • Also joined in congratulating Tom Flores for making into the Hall of Fame and for his great legacy in Sanger.

  • Trustee Solorio officially thanked all staff members who work daily to help “keep our kids safe, fed,… and learning” and for working together so effectively.

  • Trustee Vang: 

    • Brought awareness to February’s status as Black History Month by paying homage to the Buffalo Soldiers who worked for the Department of the Interior prior to the introduction of park rangers, and were assigned to various national parks – including Yosemite.

    • Similar to Trustee Her’s comments on the exceptional work ethic of SUSD staff, Board President Vang extended appreciation and gratitude “as a parent and a trustee” for the sacrifices these workers make to provide a safe and efficient learning environment for students. Vang shared an anecdote of picking up “Grab ‘n Go” lunch (a program through which the district provides lunch for the day to students) and encountered workers Sean Martinez and Leanord Alan Gonzales going “beyond their duty” to assist elderly women in acquiring their lunches; To Vang, this encounter is exemplary of the hard and excellent work that is being done by staff across the District.

    • Also expressed congratulations to Tom Flores in overcoming the adversity he faced as a Hispanic student in the 1950s to ultimately make an impact which “transcends sports (and) time”. Vang thanked all individuals and organizations involved in making the Tom Flores mural a reality for their work to positively represent Hispanic students in Sanger for years to come. Specifically thanked groundskeeper Paul Maura for designing the image which is often shared to bring attention to Flores’s accomplishments. 

  • Superintendent Adela Jones: 

    • Thanked the Foundation for Sanger Schools for sponsoring and purchasing all the senior t-shirts for Sanger High. 

    • Brought attention to the attempt to set a fire to the back part of the Sanger District office — which, although causing no serious damage, displaced “many important departments” for the foreseeable future. Jones thanked those workers who were displaced for working tirelessly to complete their duties despite the incident. The Sanger Police Department and Fire Department are investigating the incident as attempted arson. 

    • Additionally, Jones offered her own appreciation to all staff members of Sanger District for working to re-open schools safely.

  • Eduardo Martinez: 

    • Offered awareness and appreciation to the many employees who are evidently committed to keeping students safe and providing resources necessary to continuing this work. Martinez specifically thanked Marcella Rosales who at 3AM was “onsight helping the fire department ensure the site was safe and secured”; Ryan Kilby and Jerry Robles for “facilitating resources” to relocate; Ms. Debbie Flores who helped find appropriate equipment for the staff who will be relocated; “all the various departments and leaders” who opened their facilities to help house the displaced staff in their operations; and the technology department who provided the necessary equipment to replace the equipment damaged by the fire. 

  • Tim Lopez offered thanks and appreciation for “what can be done” for students in the midst of a pandemic; including the outside courts that allow sports to resume and the accommodations that have been provided to extracurriculars like Academic Decathlon to resume their operations as well.. 

M. Open Forum

  • Presented with the opportunity to address the Board on any matter not on the agenda, three members of the public addressed the Board on various matters.

  • Stephanie Alvarado approached the Board to draw awareness to a COVID-19 vaccination site that may be accessed by SUSD staff members. According to Alvarado, staff members at SUSD can go to the Central High East campus in Fresno– where vaccines have been opened to educators — and simply show their badges to receive the vaccine. While on the topic, Alvarado also asked that the Board consider asking the District to allow staff to use their COviD-19 sick-time to get the vaccine as it does take a great deal of time to receive.  Alvarado recalled to the Board that one staff member had arrived at 7:15am to receive their vaccine only to find that they were the 10th car in line — vaccines are not distributed until 8am. As receiving the vaccine will cut into the “duty time” of staff members, Alvarado asked that the Board petition the District to help alleviate the burden presented to staff members interested in obtaining the vaccine.

  • Lisa Sumner shared (via email) her appreciation to the Board for being able to work for a district “that truly puts students first”. Noted seeing a “huge difference” in student learning after the District implemented a hybrid (partial distance learning, partial in-person learning) model. In closing her statement, Sumner also expressed a wish for SUSD to return to a permanent in-person learning model soon so as to meet the needs of struggling students.

  • Jaime and Emma Padilla approached the Board (via email) with concerns that provided a complete opposite perspective than the one provided by Sumner. Emma Padilla addressed the Board with concerns of the alleged “bullying and harassment and mental abuse” of students at the hands of SUSD coach Mr. Cuellar. Padilla recalled that she had first come to the Board with these concerns in 2020, but maintained that no definitive action has been taken, claiming that even after attending “several board meetings”; filing a formal complaint; submitting a packet to all Board members with student/parents’ complaints regarding Mr. Cuellar; and a July 20202 meeting with Tim Lopez and Dennis Wickman, her family has received no response or resolution from the Board, school district, or school. While Padilla confirmed that her son had been harassed by Cuellar, she maintained that requesting that the Board take action was not about her son but about those students who were “afraid to speak up” about their experiences of being abused and harassed by Cuellar. As Padilla has not received any indication of action being taken regarding the “history of abuse” by Cuellar, she ended her address by conveying her frustrations; “it saddens me”, Padilla ended, “that Sanger Unified School District fails to protect our students”.

N. Consent Agenda

  • Consent agenda is approved; Trustee Vasquez made a motion to approve with the addition of the supplemental human resources personnel report, with a second by Trustee Hernandez.

  • The motion carries with a 7-0 vote.


1. General District Update

  • Each Tuesday, county numbers for COVID-19 positive cases are updated; according to this week’s report, Superintendent Jones relayed, numbers in Sanger appear to be declining — with 30.3 per 100,00 cases. To get to the point for additional students (7-12) are allowed to return to school, however, the county guideline requires that there only be 25 per 100,000 cases. Jones projects that the numbers are getting close to this point, with this number likely meeting the guidelines by “next week”, at which point the Board will address the community to instruct how this return will be implemented. 

  • Deputy Martinez took the opportunity presented by this update to cover the efforts SUSD is taking to ensure colleagues of the District can receive the vaccine. According to Martinzez, SUSD was working on a motion to appeal to Fresno County to secure vaccines for SUSD employees. While Fresno County was sympathetic to the effort, Deputy Martinez confirmed that officials simply could not secure the resources for SUSD employees. With this effort not coming to fruition, SUSD is redirecting their efforts and intends to appeal to other neighbors to get these resources. While Martinez expressed a feeling of understanding regarding the restrictions each county faces in their attempts to distribute the vaccine, he assured the public that the SUSD Board of Trustees and Administration remain dedicated to getting the vaccines out and to “continue to provide” to team and staff members.“Any way we can get the vaccine”, Martinez closed, “we are advocating for.”

  • Following comments from Board Clerk Wolfe and Deputy Martinez, statistics on the status of COVID-19 cases in SUSD were reviewed:

    • According to research provided by the Department of Health, active cases have remained small since the last Board of Trustees meeting, with 4 employees and 5 students being active cases, there has actually been a decrease of cases in SUSD — a trend that parallels what is being seen within the county. 

    • Since contact tracing first began in SUSD, a total of 288 positive cases have been documented.

      • Cumulatively, 119/1,025 contact-traced employees have tested positive; and 169/2,803 contact-traced students have tested positive.

    • Since the last COVID report was given, no increase in confirmed transmissions has been seen — spelling good news for SUSD, as more pressure is being brought to the Board by parents and students alike to resume permanent in-person classes. 

    • The trend seen within SUSD of declining positive COVID-19 cases is supported by the data found by its “surveillance testing” events. Every two weeks, employees who opt in for the event are randomly selected to be tested. The first testing event reported 3/120 employees tested positive for COVID-19; the second event reported 3/106 positive cases; and the third, most recent, testing event reported that 0/145 tested positive. The Board confirmed that surveillance testing will continue on it’s two week cycle for the foreseeable future.

2. English Learner (EL) Master Plan Update 2020-21

  • Teresa Blanchards (program specialist for the English Learner Master Plan) approached the Board during this time to introduce the updates her team is proposing be made to the 2020-2021 English Learner Master Plan. The proposed document is a guide to help teachers “provide what our English learners (at SUSD) need” and goes over not only compliance but how teachers “provide the best environment for english learners”. The updates to the EL Master Plan include:

    • A reduction in size from 133 pages to 53 “more manageable” pages to help stakeholders navigate, read, and implement more effectively.

    • The addition of elements (ie: graphics, tables, charts, etc.) to make the Master Plan “more visual” in an effort to help all who read it digest it more easily.

    • A focus on implementing the California EL roadmap more effectively. In 2017, the State of California adopted a group of policies to standardize the way English is taught to multi-lingual students across the state. According to Blanchards, many updates in the EL Master Plan in SUSD were proposed in an attempt to weave in these standards.

    • An observance of EL typologies: as there can be no “one size fits all” model for english-learners, the updated Master Plan attempts to incorporate strategies and policies that help “customize and personalize” instructions needed in the classroom.

    • Blanchards also shared the positive effects that one grant’s assistance has given the EL program. Specifically, this funding has helped the EL program provide the resources necessary to meet the needs of students/prevent them from reaching Lifetime EL (LTEL) status. In 2018-2019, the number of students learning at LTEL level was 456; the next year (2019-2020), the number dropped to 235 — an achievement that Deputy Martinez deemed a “huge” accomplishment.

  • Following Blanchards’ update, the Board passed a motion to update the EL Master Plan by a vote of 7-0.

3. Resolution No. 20-21~027 of the Board of Trustees of the Sanger Unified School District Authorizing the Issuance and Sale of General Obligation Bonds, Election of 2018, Series C, in the Aggregate Principal Amount of not to exceed $25,000,000 and Approving Related Documents and Actions and Resolution No. 20-21~028 of the Board of Trustees of the Sanger Unified School District Authorizing the Issuance and Sale of General Obligation Bonds, Election of 2020, Series A, in the Aggregate Principal Amount of Not to Exceed $50,000,000 and Approving Related Documents and Actions 

  • According to the Sanger Unified Board of Trustee’s website, “The District continues to have facilities needs which can be funded with voter-approved bonds under Measure B of 2018, and Measure C of 2020.”  This proposed resolution would thus, in essence, authorize the Board to issue said bonds to subsidize these costs via the “Election of 2018 Series C and Resolution 20-21~028 authorizing Election of 2020, Series A”.

  • Through a vote of 7-0, the motion to approve was carried by the Board.

4. Award of Bid to Rakkar Development and Construction for the Centerville Elementary School Hardcourts and Site Improvement Project

  • According to the Board’s website, the bid to launch The Centerville Elementary School Hardcourts and Site Improvements project was opened on January 28, 2021. It was the recommendation of staff to award the base bid in the amount of $434,000.00 to Rakkar Development & Construction. Through the 13 bids received, this resolution proposes that the award be given to the lowest bidder, Rakkar Development and Construction, despite protests being made by an outside party (the second lowest bidder).

  • Through a vote of 7-0, the motion to approve this award and reject the outside protest was carried by the Board.

5. Memorandum of Understanding with Walden University for Field Site Experience Programs 

  • In approving this memorandum, students in undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate programs would be allowed to partner with field sites (such as Walden University) for educational field experiences. The appeal of what such a fieldwork preparation program offers, according to the Board’s website, is in what it provides to students: adopting this memorandum would provide “all students” the opportunity to “fulfill the credentialing requirements set forth by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing”. 

  • Through a vote of 7-0, the motion to approve this memorandum of Understanding was carried by the Board.

Items 6-12:

*** Note: Items 6-12 are revisions to existing Sanger Unified School District Board Policy that reflect “recent legislative changes and current district practices” more so than proposing entirely new policies. As the Board Trustees understood this provision, minimal-to-no discussion was held in the process of passing each of the revisions.

Q. Adjournment

  • Having just entered into their second hour, the Sanger Board of Trustees adjourned their meeting at 8:58 pm. The next regular meeting of the Board will be held on February 23, 2021, at 7 PM.


Bringing forth a number of measures, the February 9th meeting of the Sanger Unified School District Board of Trustees provided an intriguing and personal look into how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected school districts across the country. Indeed, the vast majority of the meeting was spent discussing matters related to the pandemic — with special focus gravitating towards discussions of how vaccines will be distributed as well as to how the Board will update its policies to meet the consistently changing regulations the pandemic brings about. Additionally, the final portion of the meeting was spent approving items that would update existing Sanger Unified School District Board Policy that reflect “recent legislative changes and current district practices” (see items 6-12).

While the pandemic has certainly provided a great deal of stress to the parents, students, and staff at SUSD, this meeting of the SUSD Board of Trustees showcased a community refusing to cave to the stress and, instead, choosing to come together. Specifically, the communication segment of the Board’s meeting absolutely radiated with gratitude for teachers and students alike; a gratitude that the community is proving to echo back through Sanger High’s kindness week and through comments from the public like those offered by Lisa Sumner. Still, as a communal longing to return to normalcy in school operations continues to bud, it will prove interesting to see how SUSD and its community will handle the changes that are sure to come as the world enters this next phase of the pandemic. 

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