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School's Ethnic Ratio Is Unfair, Parents Say

October 29, 1998|TONY LYSTRA

Reacting to complaints about the ethnic breakdown at Moorpark's Peach Hill Elementary School, one board member says the panel will consider redrawing the school's boundaries.

Parents of some white students at Peach Hill say the ratio of Latino students to whites is too high, reducing opportunities for their own children.

Recent Moorpark Unified School District statistics show that since 1992, the number of Latino students at Peach Hill has risen from 36% to 49%. The school has 623 students.

Latino students account for 18% to 38% of the student body at other Moorpark schools.

Some Peach Hill parents are concerned that English-speaking students aren't getting the attention they need with so many students learning English as a second language.

"Frankly, I'm quite appalled and disgusted by what I see," Norman Lew, the parent of a Peach Hill student, said at Tuesday's Moorpark Unified School District board meeting. "I came here tonight to ask that you revisit this sensitive area. . . Take a look at this so when we go into the millennium, we won't be a segregated school district."

Parents may be getting the wrong impression from recent test results, said Frank DePasquale, an assistant superintendent for Moorpark Unified. While Peach Hill's overall test scores are lower than some Moorpark schools, those students who speak English as their first language are right in line with those at other schools.

Peach Hill is the only Moorpark school to qualify for federal Title VII funds, which helps students learning English as a second language. DePasquale said that fact has led some parents to conclude that Peach Hill emphasizes ESL programs over others.

But students are grouped with others of similar abilities in a team-teaching process that allows them to excel, he said.

School board member David Pollock said, "We try to maintain diversity at all of our elementary schools because all of those kids end up at the high school together.

"The concern is that children won't learn that they live in a community with children that live differently than themselves. And those can become problems in higher grades in the form of intolerance and even hatred."

Pollock also said the district will consider changing Peach Hill's boundaries, perhaps by the beginning of next school year.

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