Dear Students, Staff, and Parents, Each year we celebrate and honor our retirees at a special school board meeting in May. This year, we are able to hold the retirement reception in person for a limited number of attendees. We will be live-streaming our presentation of retirees tonight, May 11, at 6:00 PM. You are invited to watch it live at www.opusd.org/Retirements2021 . Congratulations to all of our 2021 retirees! Thank you for all of your work to support Oak Park USD’s students and families. We wish you a wonderful retirement!
Dear Families and Staff, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is observed annually in May to celebrate the many contributions of the 24 million-plus Americans who are of Asian and/or Pacific Islander descent. As defined by AsianPacificHeritage.gov AAPI is a rather broad term encompassing all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Easter Island). The influence and impact of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans on society are evident throughout our country’s history, especially in California, where the influences from our Pacific Rim neighbors have led to the amazing diversity within our state. According to the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), the 2021 theme for AAPI Heritage Month is " Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service. " In OPUSD, in recognition of the AAPI Heritage Month, all students will be participating in a district-wide activity on Friday, May 7th, as well as other teacher-led classroom lessons and activities during the month. Please join us in celebrating our Asian American and Pacific Islander families who continue to enrich our community and our District!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 28, 2021 Oak Park High School is a 2021 California Distinguished School State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond yesterday named the 2021 California Distinguished Schools. Previously, in an announcement on March 18, the California Department of Education (CDE) awarded the honor to 102 schools, before yesterday adding 120 additional California senior high schools and one additional middle school. We are excited to announce that Oak Park High School was once again named a California Distinguished School. This is the third Distinguished School Award in the past 8 years. OPHS was recognized as a CA Distinguished School in 2013, 2019, and now in 2021. The California Department of Education (CDE) identifies and awards eligible schools based on performance and progress on state indicators specified on the California School Dashboard, the state’s accountability, and continuous improvement system. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and conditions, and climate. “ These schools are great examples of California’s commitment to provide outstanding public education for all students, and their data-driven efforts have helped ensure that their students leave with the tools and skills they need to be successful after graduation, ” Thurmond said. Principal Buchanan feels “this distinction validates all the hard work we are doing to ensure that our programs are the very best and that all of our students have remarkable opportunities to succeed and reach their potential. It is only possible through the hard work of administrators, staff, and students and with the support of a terrific parent community. This recognition takes into account several measures that point to the quality of our school including graduation rate, college and career readiness, and academic achievement and growth of all students regardless of demographics. The award is especially rewarding because it acknowledges the work we have done to close achievement gaps among various groups of students.” 2021 Best High of Schools, US News, and World Report Ranking For the second year in a row, Oak Park High School (OPHS) has been recognized by the US News and World Report as one of America's Best High Schools and is among the top 500 public and private schools nationally. OPHS is ranked #67 statewide among all high schools in California, #184 nationally as a STEM school, and #493 nationally overall. In addition, Oak Park tied for the top spot with some of the highest-ranked schools nationally and in the state for our 100% graduation rate. U.S. News and World Report ranks high schools each year based on several factors, including the proportion of 12th graders who took advanced placement and international baccalaureate exams, math and reading standardized testing scores, and graduation rates. The publication also weighs how underserved students perform, including low-income, Black, and Hispanic enrollees. 1675 schools in California and 17,800 nationally made the ranking. The news magazine uses data from the U.S. Department of Education rather than letting schools self-report according to a press release. The top schools are those whose students earned outstanding scores in math and reading state assessments, took and earned a qualifying score in an array of college-level exams, and graduated in high proportions. The methodology focused on six factors: college readiness; reading and math proficiency; reading and math performance; underserved students' performance; college curriculum breadth, and graduation rates. College readiness specifically measured participation and performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams. U.S. News and World Report has used the above methodology since 2019. The data used for the 2021 ranking is from the 2018-2019 academic school year. Data from the 2019-2020 school year was not included because of the extreme learning circumstances for students during the coronavirus pandemic. STATEMENT FROM SUPERINTENDENT, DR. TONY KNIGHT: These recognitions highlight the exemplary and outstanding quality of our schools in Oak Park. Congratulations to the entire Oak Park High School staff, our parents, and, of course, our students. These recognitions do not come easily. They come as a result of a tremendous amount of hard work and innovation. Most importantly, the nature of these recognitions highlights and recognizes the inclusiveness of the educational programs in Oak Park and the constant desire to improve and grow. ALL of our schools in Oak Park share in these recognitions because our work each day brings our students to a state of readiness to succeed and achieve at the high school level and beyond, pursuing their passions and building their futures.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 20, 2021 Oak Park USD Board of Education Selects Dr. Jeff Davis as Superintendent On April 20, 2021, the Oak Park Unified School District (OPUSD) Board of Trustees selected Dr. Jeff Davis as the District's new Superintendent, effective July 1, 2021. Following a nationwide search and selection process lasting five months, the Board unanimously voted for Dr. Davis to succeed Superintendent Dr. Tony Knight, who will retire on June 30th this year. Board Member Denise Helfstein said “ Jeff is a strong, collaborative, and proven leader with years of instructional and executive cabinet-level experience working in several school districts. He also has experience working in a school district with like demographics and size as ours. One of the things that stood out to me about Jeff is that he is a long-standing community member of the Conejo Valley. He knows Oak Park and shares the collective conscience of our community—from Borderline to Woolsey, to what we have endured through the COVID-19 pandemic. Jeff will start from day one with a deep understanding of our shared experiences. The entire Board is looking forward to working with Jeff to help take OPUSD to the next level of academic excellence. “ Dr. Davis’s extensive educational background includes a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California, a Master’s in Educational Administration from California State University, Northridge, a Master’s in Athletic Administration from The Ohio State University, and a Bachelor’s in History from California State University, Northridge. He’s currently in his fourth year as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources in the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD). Prior to the VUSD, Dr. Davis served as the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, in the La Cañada Unified School District, Director of Secondary Education in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, and Director of High School Programs in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Additionally, Dr. Davis served as Principal of Chatsworth High School, was a middle school principal, high school assistant principal, and teacher, as well as a high school softball, baseball, and basketball coach. His vast experiences, combined with district-level leadership in educational and administrative services, uniquely qualify Dr. Davis for the role of Superintendent in the Oak Park USD. Ventura USD, Superintendent, Dr. Roger Rice states, “ We are excited for Dr. Davis and the community of Oak Park. We appreciate the years of collaborative leadership Dr. Davis brought to Ventura Unified. His ability to work with our associations ensuring synergistic goals were developed and met, especially this past year, was invaluable and will be difficult to replace. I look forward to working with him in his new capacity as Superintendent. “I am honored to have been chosen for this position,” said Dr. Davis. “I want to thank the Board of Education for providing me the opportunity to lead this great school district. I am grateful to serve as the next Superintendent and want to personally recognize Dr. Knight for the outstanding job he has done in leading the Oak Park USD to prominence over the last 17 years. I will work collaboratively, with an emphasis on teamwork and a “students first” mindset, to continue moving our district in a positive direction and improving the educational outcomes for all students. I believe that all students have the right to access any of our program offerings and that all students deserve the opportunity to challenge themselves academically through our robust extracurricular offerings, or any other program that they desire to participate in. In addition, I believe it is critical that we provide our administrators, teachers, counselors, and support staff with the resources, materials, and training necessary to enhance the already high-quality educational experience that our teachers provide our students daily. I’m looking forward to a strong partnership with all stakeholders that is focused on the academic and social-emotional well-being of all Oak Park USD students.” Dr. Jeff Davis and his wife Laurie reside in Thousand Oaks. Mrs. Davis is the Principal of Weathersfield Elementary, a recently named National Blue Ribbon School in the Conejo Valley USD. The Davises have three children: Matt, who is married to Christine; Jenna and Paige. Matt and Jenna are school guidance counselors in Ventura County, Christine is an occupational therapist for the Ventura County Office of Education (VCOE), and Paige is a professional photographer. The District will schedule a meet-and-greet opportunity for students, parents, staff, and the school community before the start of the next school year.
Dear Students, Staff, and Parents, As I outlined in my previous update, over the past 30 days, the Board and Leadership Associates, our executive search partner, have been vetting and interviewing Superintendent candidates. Our first round of interviews, conducted on March 28, introduced us to 7 great candidates. The questions that were posed to the candidates were all highly influenced by the stakeholder input that we had received, as well as a specific question asked of all potential OPUSD employees crafted by our Diversity and Equity Task Force. After interviewing all 7 candidates, we eliminated 4 and planned a second round of interviews with the remaining 3 candidates. The second round of interviews was conducted on March 29, after which the Board went through several rounds of closed-session deliberation to come to an agreement on which candidate we should move forward with. Although all 3 candidates were phenomenal and would do an excellent job leading OPUSD forward, we relied on the results of the stakeholder surveys to help us make our decision. From the surveys, it was clear that we needed someone who: Understands the challenges of running a high performing school district and will grow academic achievement for all students Understands the demographic of our community and student body Has extensive prior cabinet-level experience and secondary school experience Is a strong instructional leader and will continue to be progressive and visionary Will embrace and strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in OPUSD Has the ability to listen and to be empathetic; is approachable and accessible Will be collaborative, inclusive, and transparent in decision making Will be visible in the community and accountable to all stakeholders Will place the highest priority on safe environments for students and staff Would ALWAYS put our students needs first I am happy to report that all 5 Board members agreed that we should move forward with a single candidate. We are currently negotiating the contract and will announce and appoint the new Superintendent and approve the contract at our regularly scheduled Board meeting on April 20th . I encourage all of you to watch the live stream at 6:00 pm via this link: www.opusd.org/livestream . I believe that I can speak for each of the Board members by saying that this was the most difficult decision that we have had to make, and it would not have been possible without your help. I want to thank you all for your participation in this process. We are all extremely excited for this next chapter in OPUSD’s history. Allen Rosen firstname.lastname@example.org President OPUSD Board of Trustees
Dear Families and Staff, In my March 26, 2021 message to you, I had stated that we are planning for a normal school year for 2021-2022. Since reopening our schools for in-person instruction in the past month and a half, we have seen that positive cases of COVID-19 remain low in California and in Ventura County. Subsequently, on April 6th California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Governor Newsom released Beyond the Blueprint for Safer Economy guidance , expected to go into effect on June 15. This blueprint states that state schools and institutions of higher education should conduct full-time, in-person instruction in compliance with Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standards and public health guidelines. I am pleased to now reiterate that Oak Park USD is planning for a full, normal, and regular school opening on the first day of school on August 9. As we plan for the 2021-2022 school year, we will continue to follow guidance from the CDPH and modify our protocols based on the most current guidance. The health, safety, and wellbeing of our students, staff, and families remain our priority. We will plan to no longer offer Hybrid or Distance Learning in the upcoming school year. For families that want their children to participate in an alternative model, the District offers the Oak Park Independent School (OPIS) option. You can explore this option here . If you prefer this choice, please contact your school office to request a transfer. On March 26, the California Department of Public Health issued Guidance for Commencement and Graduation Ceremonies . All Oak Park USD culmination and graduation ceremonies next month will be in-person events with required safety protocols in place. Middle School Culmination and High School Graduations: All middle and high school graduation/culmination ceremonies will be on-campus and in-person. Safety protocols will be in place, such as the required wearing of masks and required physical distancing. More information will follow from the school sites directly in the coming weeks. Elementary 5th-Grade Culmination: School leaders are meeting with parents and staff to plan for 5th-Grade culmination ceremonies with all required safety protocols. More information will follow in the coming weeks. As the 2020-21 school year draws to a close, we look forward to celebrating our student culminations and graduations in a traditional manner and opening our schools in August normally, including the full opening of the Club Oak Park extended care program. With the many challenges that the pandemic has presented, the District looks forward to welcoming our students and families to a regular school year in August. Sincerely, Dr. Tony Knight Superintendent
Dear Parents and Staff, We are proud to share three celebrations happening nationally this month. We invite you to talk about them at home as well. One of our OPUSD goals is to, ...Ensure that our schools encourage diversity and are places of acceptance, appreciation, and celebration for our learning community. “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength."—Maya Angelou. Dr. Tony Knight Superintendent March is Women's History Month Women’s History Month originally began in 1978 as a weeklong celebration in a school district in Sonoma County, California. Two years later, President Jimmy Carter declared a week in March as women’s history week. Congress later passed a resolution to declare March as a month dedicated to celebrating women's achievements in history. Click here to learn more about Women’s History Month National Deaf History Month - March 13 - April 15 National Deaf History Month celebrates the achievements of people who are deaf and hard of hearing. Since this coincides with Women’s History month, it is important to note that there are many women who made great strides as deaf or hard of hearing people, including Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts of America; Dr. Shirley Allen, who was the first deaf Black woman to earn a doctorate; and Annie Cannon, who developed the Harvard Classification Scheme, which is still used today by astronomers! On April 8, 1864, Gallaudet University — the world’s first and only institution dedicated to advanced education for the deaf and hard of hearing — was officially founded and supported by Abraham Lincoln. To read more about National Deaf history month, click on the links below: Insight in Diversity - National Deaf History Month Top 10 Deaf Women in History Nowruz - Persian New Year March 20, 2021 Nowruz (Norooz), which means “new day” is the Persian New Year. It is celebrated around the Vernal Equinox and can fall anywhere from March 19-21. Originally celebrated by Zoroastrians over 3000 years ago, it is now a mostly secular holiday celebrated in Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as in the western world by those who hail from those countries. Celebrations commonly include gathering with family, spring cleaning, gathering flowers, and setting up a Haft-sin table filled with items that begin with the Farsi letter S. To learn more about Nowruz, click here . Nowruz Mubarak to all our families who celebrate!
Dear Student, Staff, and Families, Over the past year, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed with great sadness acts of violence and hate against members of the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities in our country. Oak Park Unified School District denounces all such racially motivated acts of harassment and violence and stands in solidarity with students, staff, and families who may encounter or are impacted by such acts of violence and hate. We are fortunate to count many families of Asian descent as a part of our diverse school community. We acknowledge that some of our families have expressed that they have experienced various forms of racism on our campuses. This is not acceptable, and we take it as our responsibility to provide a Climate of Care that is safe and healthy for all members of our student body. We remain committed to this charge and continue with the critical work of ensuring an environment that is welcoming, inclusive, and supportive for every student. If you or someone you know has been the target of discrimination or hate, we encourage you to reach out to a teacher, administrator, or counselor that you trust, use the Report It link on your school’s web page, report your concern on our anonymous tip line , or email our Coordinator for Safety and Equity, Holly Baxter, at email@example.com . We hope that our community and our nation can come together in this time of crisis, that we can embrace each other and the great multitude of backgrounds, experiences, and cultures that we bring together. We thank you for your commitment to making OPUSD a secure and inclusive community. Dr. Tony Knight Superintendent
Dear Families, The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced Friday that 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in some of the state’s hardest-hit communities. With that equity measure now met, and with Ventura County falling below the three major thresholds of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy , Ventura County will officially move to the Red Tier on Wednesday, March 17th. Instead of having to establish a COVID-19 case rate of no more than 7 cases a day per 100,000 population to enter red, counties now have to record a rate of no more than 10 cases per 100,000 population. As I explained to you in my email on March 9th, we were anticipating this might happen. We are now cleared to open our secondary schools on Monday, March 22nd. The Red Tier indicates substantial transmission rather than widespread . The shift means that secondary schools in Ventura County that did not open previously can begin to offer on-site instruction with modifications . For OPUSD, this will be our Hybrid Learning Model. NOTE: IF A STUDENT IS IN THE DISTANCE LEARNING (DL) MODEL FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SCHOOL YEAR, NOTHING IS CHANGING FOR THEM. THE INFORMATION BELOW IS FOR THE PARENTS OF STUDENTS IN THE HYBRID LEARNING MODEL. On Monday, March 22, we will begin Hybrid Learning at our secondary schools with grades 6-12. Class Cohort information has already been shared by your school sites with you. As a reminder, at MCMS and OPHS students in Cohort A will regularly attend school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays, while students in Cohort B will regularly attend school in person on Wednesdays and Thursdays. OVHS has a slightly different schedule that has already been shared with families by the site Principal. The Friday schedule will remain as it is now. Drop Off Procedures (more details coming from each school site Principal): Secondary students are not required to have a parent present during drop-off or pick-up. MCMS will have four alphabetical screening points in front of the school. Gates open at 7:45 am. OPHS will have four entry points with temporary barriers and extra staffing to help students through the screening procedure. Gates open at 7:05 am. OVHS will screen all students in front of the main office. Parents with multiple students at both elementary and secondary schools are encouraged to drop off their secondary students early and then drive their elementary students for check-in and screening. All students must wear a mask while at school. Masks must cover the full nose and mouth area and have straps that go behind a student’s ears or head. Neck gaiters and bandanas do not satisfy the mask requirement for in-person classes. Students must remain 6 feet apart at all times. All classrooms and outdoor spaces have been configured to accommodate this social distancing requirement. While students walk from one classroom to another and enjoy break times, they must stay 6 feet apart from other students and staff members. Students are required to sanitize their hands when entering and leaving classrooms. Seating charts will be used in each secondary classroom to assist with contact tracing. We have aligned our student travel quarantine to be in accordance with the CDPH recommendation for a 10-day quarantine. We are no longer mandating quarantine of students who have traveled but this is still advised. For the safety of other staff and students, please follow the travel recommendations from the CDPH as you make plans for the break and avoid non-essential travel. Additional travel guidelines from public health can be found here . This applies to international travel as well. IMPORTANT: Secondary school principals will be communicating with parents and students later today with important details specific to your child’s grade level return-to-school schedules, cohort information, arrival and dismissal procedures, screening and testing procedures, nutrition and lunch plans, and more. We feel confident about the strength of our safety plan. I recognize that while many parents and children are excited about our return, many may be anxious about it as well. Please be assured that all federal, state and local guidelines and regulations related to the opening of schools are being EXCEEDED in Oak Park, as you would expect. Because we have all been putting the necessary pieces in place and working toward this for quite some time, I am confident that the transition will be smooth as it has been with the elementary schools. As of this week, grades DK-5 are in session on campus, and things are going well. On behalf of the Board of Education and my staff, we look forward to welcoming our secondary students back to campus for Hybrid Learning. I sincerely appreciate your patience and support as we continue to work towards reopening our schools and our teachers get settled into the new mode of Hybrid Learning in the upcoming weeks. Dr. Tony Knight Superintendent
Dear Students, Parents, and Staff, The information coming from the County and State is being revised almost on a daily basis. We appreciate your patience and support as we continue to send frequent updates in order to keep you informed. The state released the official 7-day average case rate for Ventura County today and the case rate has dropped to 9.1 cases per 100,000. Last Friday, the state announced updates to their Blueprint for a Safer Economy. In addition to assessing county case rates, positivity rates, and positivity rates in neighborhoods with the lowest scores in the Healthy Places Index, the state is now taking into consideration the number of vaccinations that have been administered in the lowest-resourced neighborhoods statewide. Unlike the other three metrics, vaccination numbers will be calculated statewide and used to change the case rate thresholds for counties to move from one tier to another. This means that Ventura County could move to the Red Tier in one of two ways: Ventura County average case rate drops to 7 or below per 100,000 next Tuesday on March 16th and we remain at that rate or below until March 23rd. In this scenario, March 24th would be the first day we could open our secondary schools for Hybrid Learning. Or, once 2 million vaccine doses have been administered in the state to the communities with the lowest score in the Healthy Places Index, the threshold to move from the Purple tier to the Red tier will go from 7 new cases per 100,000 people to 10 new cases per 100,000 people. Ventura County would need to be at or below a case rate of 10 next week to accrue two weeks of Red metrics. Last week, Ventura had a case rate of 10.6. This week, Ventura County is at 9.1. If the case rate is still below 10 (and the test positivity and health equity test positivity metrics are also in the Red or better range) next Tuesday, March 16th, we would move to the Red Tier on March 17th. According to state data, almost 1.88 million total vaccine doses had been administered as of Monday in the targeted communities and the Ventura County Public Health (VCPH) expects us to reach the Vaccine Equity Metric when the state metrics are updated on March 16th. In order for us to not delay reopening once the County moves to the Red Tier, we are continuing with the three-day secondary teacher prep days this week on March 10, 11, 12 for MCMS, OVHS, and OPHS. Students in grades 4-5 will return to school in Hybrid, on-campus learning on March 15 as scheduled. As of this week, grades DK-3 are in session on campus, and things are going well. In summary, we will open secondary schools either: Monday, March 22nd if the Red Tier threshold is moved to 10 cases per 100,000, or Wednesday, March 24th if the County moves to Red Tier with 7 cases per 100,000. On March 16th, when the state updates the metrics on their website, we will send an email confirming the opening date for our secondary schools. Dr. Tony Knight Superintendent