Medical Insurance Fraud, Bullying Alleged [VIDEO]
Five FHS students, members of the National FFA Organization, gave a presentation on the convention they attended in October. The convention was held in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Five FHS students, members of the National FFA Organization, gave a presentation on the convention they attended in October. The convention was held in Indianapolis, Indiana.

It was standing room only at the Fillmore Unified School District (FUSD) Board Meeting on Tuesday night, November 15. Some had come with presentations, others with thankful appreciation and some with grievances.

During the comment section of the meeting Richard Townend, whose two sons attend FHS, addressed the Board wanting answers as to why FUSD is currently providing medical insurance for his sons. Townsend’s ex-wife, Evalene Townend, ended her employment with FUSD a year ago and is now employed at Pleasant Valley School District (PVSD). But unlike PVSD, FUSD covers its employee’s medical insurance and Mr. Townend wants to know why a third party employed at FUSD is claiming the boys as dependents and using FUSD medical coverage. Townend says that the boys are not the FUSD employees dependents and would like to know who approved this and why. He suggested that the school district check all their employees to make sure others are not receiving the District-paid medical coverage who are not qualified to receive it. Townend said he sent an email 41 days ago asking FUSD to look into the matter but never received a response, adding that with the poor financial shape of the District, they cannot afford to provide medical insurance to those who are not qualified.

Bullying and harassment was another grievance brought by Gus the uncle to a student who is a junior at Fillmore High School (FHS). He stated that his nephew has been bullied for the last two months at FHS by four students who belong to a local gang. There have been several incidents that have taken place both on and off campus. The uncle stated that the harassment has take place at school on a regular basis but also at the student’s home and at the Pacific View Mall where it became physical and required others to step in to stop it. He asked the Board for the school’s guidelines on bullying and that the District “take more serious measures” in addressing it. When interviewed and asked if he, the student, had brought this to FHS Administration and what he would like done to remedy the situation, the student stated that the school has accused him of instigating the situation and suspended him for the language he used when addressing the gang members. As to what he feels could resolve the situation, he said he would be open to mediation to resolve it or that those harassing him be reprimanded.

Fillmore Middle School’s (FMS) Principal Dr. Ellen Green, along with seven faculty members, gave a presentation of the Revised Site Plan which began with “Purpose, Beliefs and Goals” focusing on six priorities; improve reading, writing, math, close the achievement gap between subgroups and raise proficiency among English Language Learners and students with disabilities, improved teaching techniques, technology support to enhance instruction, increase and improve parent involvement. Green proudly stated FMS’s new mission statement, Think, Believe, Create, Achieve and added, “We believe that all students can learn.”

This won’t be an easy task; for the last nine years FMS has failed to meet State Standards, continually remaining in Program Improvement Status. Since 2008 the school has declined even farther in English, history, mathematics and science; with the exception on science which improved in 2010-2011.

Language proficiency is a huge hurdle for educators at FMS. Of the 830 students 24% are English Language Learners, 12% Initially Fluent English Proficient and 23% Reclassified Fluent English Proficient. To address this, the English Language Advisory Committee meets once a month to discuss ways to build English skills and catch the students who are falling behind. Another change being implemented to address unprepared students is making sure they do their homework. Any student who has not completed his/her homework is required to finish it during lunch under a teacher’s supervision.

It seems some of the chalkboards have been replaced with new technology and other interactive tools that enhance learning, but these new items come with a price that requires items be introduced to a few classrooms at a time. Green and the other presenters are enthusiastic about the work being done, but Green admitted the financial problems are huge stating, “We’re confined with our budget.”

A presentation was also given by five FHS student members of the National FFA Organization (also known as Future Farmers of America) who attended the 84th FFA Convention held on October 18-23 in Indianapolis, Indiana. All the presenters gave great descriptions of what they had learned and enjoyed while attending the convention. The students listened to motivational speakers and various sessions, toured processing plants, learned about mold prevention on harvested crops, dairy farms and the production of milk and the importance of environmental systems like bee production. But it wasn’t all learning, there was plenty of fun as the students visited the Indy Speedway, enjoyed a Blake Shelton concert, and wandered through a corn maze.

FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students and could be seen as each of the FFA member explained the impact the conference had had on them, such as; a renewed inspiration and motivation to be active in their community, greater leadership skills, the importance of agriculture and the many related industries, being less judgmental and a better understanding of others.

Sammy Martinez, FHS Speaker of the House, informed the Board that the Associated Student Body (ASB) is planning a convention with Santa Paula ASB. Also on the students’ agenda is Renaissance Week which began on the 14th and ends the 18th with a rally and all classes have ongoing fundraisers.

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