Here are some facts about the Carpinteria school board’s decision last week to eliminate Transitional Kindergarten (a new, early kindergarten program for 4-year-olds in California public schools) for approximately 28 children who have spring birthdays.

Last February, Carpinteria elementary principals, preschool directors, and the superintendent told these 28 families that their kids could enroll in Transitional Kindergarten (TK) in fall 2016 due to a change in the rules. These families, on the guidance of school leaders, spent hours attending doctor’s appointments, meeting with teachers and touring schools, all to formally enroll for TK.

At no point did the Carpinteria Unified School District’s board (CUSD)tell parents that this new deadline was “pending.” Now, with just weeks before school starts, 28 families are scrambling to find childcare because they already gave up their child’s preschool spot. (Families affected by this change can appeal the decision by writing a letter to the board.)

Parents in some of these 28 families took new jobs or signed up for college based on their children having increased child-care coverage, but they may have to forfeit those plans. The board claims the decision was financially motivated, but they are not eliminating TK entirely. It will cost the 28 families affected over $126,000 to pay for the cost of childcare that TK would have covered.

Last, the CUSD board did not list anything about changing the TK enrollment birthday on last week’s agenda, possibly violating the Brown Act. Instead, the only relevant item lists TK personnel issues. And the 28 families who would be directly affected by this decision were not notified in advance.

The board’s dire decision is outrageous and wrong-headed. I hope that the board reconsiders its actions and allows 28 young children to pursue the promised education they deserve.


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