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The Truth About Laguna Creek High School

Get the facts before you make a decision for your child.

The conversation usually goes something like this:

Someone asks: "So, what school does your daughter attend?"

I answer: "Laguna Creek High School."

They respond: "Oh...." (big pause). "How does she like it?" Or sometimes, "How is it going over there?"  

These words are almost always accompanied by a look that says something like, "Wow, I am SO sorry." Sometimes a visible wince even comes along for the ride.

I'm not sure people even realize they do this. When I answer them with the truth, which is that she loves her school, that she is thriving and having the time of her life, people seem politely surprised. Or a little perplexed. Or they assume that I am lying and trying to make myself feel better about the horrible thing I did to my daughter. You get the picture.

Anyone following the school board’s discussion about attendance boundary changes over the last few months will have heard plenty of accusations about the supposed inferior quality of education at Harriet Eddy Middle School and Laguna Creek High School. The schools had lower test scores, we heard. They were unsafe. Who would want to send their children there?

I am a Foulks Ranch Elementary School parent who chose to send her child to Harriet Eddy and Laguna Creek when very few others did, and I’m here to tell you that the public perception of those schools is incorrect.  The problem is that at this point the negativity has become folklore that is passed down year after year, from neighbor to neighbor, from parent to child, like a giant poisonous game of "telephone." 

As the parent of two more children at Foulks Ranch, including a sixth grader, I paid particular attention to the hubbub surrounding the boundary changes. I listened to parents from Joseph Sims Elementary implore the district not to ruin their children's lives by making them go to an "inferior" school.  I listened to people discuss placing their homes up for sale en masse and moving away rather than send their children to "those" schools, and present alternative boundary proposals that amounted to sending "anyone but us" to Laguna Creek.  

What is it about this subject that divides us so?  How can it be that we all live less than eight minutes from each other, we shop at the same grocery stores, our kids go to elementary school together and play sports together, but somehow there is that much of a difference in the quality of secondary education in our communities? That makes no sense at all.

Our perceptions and our words are very powerful things.  They can help us achieve great things and they can also fracture communities and tank the reputations of entire schools.

Something is wrong when a sixth-grade student comes home from school and tells her parent that a classmate informed her she will probably get shot in the head if she attends Harriet Eddy.  (This happened recently to the daughter of a friend of mine.) When people go on anonymous online forums and talk about violence at Laguna Creek that simply did not happen, indeed something is very wrong.

Eddy's new principal brought his orientation to Foulks Ranch recently. Attendance was dismal.  As a result, very few people heard that Eddy had the lowest rate of drug and violence related suspensions per capita of any middle school in the district last year. Upon further investigation, I found that Laguna Creek was among the four high schools in the district with the lowest rates for drug and violence related suspensions during the same time period. The hype simply does not match the reality. 

Consider the academic test score argument.  It does not take a lot of brainpower to see that at this point the test-score disparity is largely a self-fulfilling prophecy.  People hear some schools are "bad,” so people do acrobatics to send their kids and their test scores to another school, so test scores at the "bad" schools suffer, and then people use the lower test scores to bolster their opinion that the schools are "bad."  

The truth is right there if you are willing to look past the preconceived notions, and seek out facts rather than rumors. I know this because I have done it.  

In the years prior to my daughter's middle school transition I attended all of the Laguna Community Parent Forum meetings hosted by the district—ironically, because I was displeased with the idea of having to send my child to "those" schools. What I discovered was that Eddy and Laguna had a great deal to offer my daughter, including the prospect of having the first and only prestigious International Baccalaureate Program in EGUSD, great leadership training, involved and dedicated teachers, and a sense of community that only her neighborhood schools could provide.

This week, the school district plans to hold a lottery for families who applied to transfer from their assigned schools under the district’s open enrollment policy. Being concerned about your child's education and wanting the best for them is wonderful.  All I am asking is that parents investigate what is actually "the best" before they act.

Where should concerned parents start? Get involved and stay involved. Talk to the principals. Tour the schools. Speak to the Sheriff's School Resource Officers—They know what goes on at our schools.  Ask them all the hard questions, and keep asking until you are satisfied.  

And please, next time you feel like offering me your condolences, don't bother. Instead, ask me why I made the decision I did for my daughter. I’d be happy to share.

Amy Carson February 22, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Mr. Ware, You stated: "It has been my personal experience that the Elk Grove community would rather bury their head in denial than put in the hard work mandated to face issues and rectify impropriety. I would be interested to know where the both of you stood with regards to Eddy's prior administration." My response to this is that it was almost immediately apparent to me when my daughter started at Eddy that there was a serious management problem. Not a teacher problem. Not a student problem. A management problem. The administrative change that occurred was long overdue and I believe that parents like me who stayed and drew attention to this problem with the district in some way played a part in finally making that happen. We did not bury our heads in the sand and we certainly did not run away from the problem, trashing a whole school along the way. You are correct when you say "when children's futures are at stake, your words and recommendations carry the potential to effect said futures." It goes both ways.
Linda Seddon February 22, 2012 at 10:45 PM
My son is now a freshman at Laguna High School, and so far, I am very impressed with the teachers, administration, and student body alike. I just wanted to contribute a piece of information for anyone who might be concerned that the IB program is being used for purposes of bolstering enrollment or to create an "academic cache." While it is true that there are a limited number of students earning the IB diploma, it is my understanding that IB classes are open to any student who is interested, and students will be encouraged to take these classes even if they are not earning the full diploma. This program will extend to a much wider group of students than many people realize. I also noticed that the school is doing a great job of offering after school tutoring and enrichment opportunities even in the face of the current budget issues. We are on a good path. Whatever occurred in the past, let's continue to support such efforts toward improvement at all Elk Grove schools.
Olivia August 25, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I have 2 children who attended Laguna Creek High School all four years. They are amazing citizens and they could not have attended a better high school. The staff was amazing and supportive. My oldest went on to attend an Ivy League college and is now a medical physician. He had an amazing advocacy teacher who was a wonderful role model for both my children. Thank you Laguna Creek High School and Mrs. Dettner.
Laguna Ady January 26, 2013 at 08:32 PM
I'm a former student at LCHS class of 06. I loved Laguna high! It was fun and I learned more at this high school than I do in college. Everyone at this school is like a family...I'm not sure what happened in the past 6 years that has caused this schools reputation to drop down...I currently reside in San Ramon, California..we have excellent schools here in the east Bay Area the only problem is......DRUGS. Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon, Danville, Alamo etc all of these affluent cities struggles with drug abuse problems with high school students. Mostly because these children have an excess of everything. I hear the craziest stories about the drug problems around here....this was NEVER and issue at Laguna Creek, none of the students seemed interested in drugs or alcohol. This is a school for athletes and future college bound humans!
Elk Grove dad February 17, 2013 at 12:05 AM
Our family moved recently into the area and this article has been an exact match for our experience. We heard the rumors, we saw the long faces, we heard the "oh, you poor things", but I can't figure out why. My daughter likes it there and even if Franklin opens up a spot for her she plans to decline. Same for my son. I'm at a loss to explain why people view it as a "ghetto school", other than some people just want to make themselves more important than others. I've come to the conclusion that those with an attitude problem about Laguna Creek should take a closer look at their own motives before popping off their ignorant mouths.

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