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Frustrations Mount in Klamath-Trinity School District

ACLU, advocates charge the district isn't doing enough for at-risk, Native youth

It's pouring rain in Hoopa. The roads are slick with ice and snow is about to fall as roughly half a dozen people shuffle into a small room for the Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District Board meeting in mid-February. The crowd is small but those attending carry the voices of their children, their community and, for this particular region, their tribes. Erika Tracey was one of those who stood up to address the board. "There just really seems to be a feeling right now of not having the ability to provide feedback, to engage with the plans, to even access," she says. "Whether it be resources or even just accessing a school board." Tracey, the executive director of the Hoopa Tribal Education Association, says multiple problems with the district's handing of the Local Control Accountability Plan prompted her, the Hoopa Valley Tribe and the Yurok Tribe, in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union, to demand more transparency in how the district spends its limited funds. "Our attention recently focused on the LCAP but what we're seeing and what we're noticing is that there are a lot of the patterns that are being highlighted with this LCAP," Tracey says. "Needing to have stakeholder engagement, needing to make sure that all of the spending and the planning and all of those pieces are transparent." Historically, Tracey says, tribes have seen a disparity in the education of their youth that stretches back to the indoctrination of Western boarding schools. This LCAP — a three-year plan, updated annually, that is designed to detail all the district's programs and expenditures — puts that disparity in writing and on record, she says. In collaboration with the ACLU, Tracey worked to show how the district lets students fall through the cracks. The LCAP was supposed to detail how the district is addressing those students through what's called the Supplemental and Concentration Fund, which allocates nearly $2.2 million for three specific types of students: foster children, English Language Learners and students with low socio-economic status. Criticisms of the LCAP and the district fell into several categories, such as a lack of transparency and engagement, little accountability in how funds are spent and a lack of a parental advisory committee, something that isn't required but is recommended. The notion that the $2.2 million in funds designated for at-risk children are being used to cover the district's shortcomings is,…

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