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Parents raise concerns over SDUSD late start times

Some asking for changes to help working families
Posted at 8:25 AM, Oct 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-04 21:38:25-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Some parents at a San Diego Unified School District campus are asking district officials for help with challenges they say are brought on by new, later start times.

This fall, three schools implemented SDUSD's "Healthy Start Times" program, beginning classes at 8:35 a.m. The District has cited multiple studies that show later start times have positive effects on the health and academic performances of students.

RELATED: Three San Diego schools to switch to later start times in 2019

But some parents say the District isn't doing enough to help families who still have to drop their students off at school before 8 am, so the parents can get to work on time.

Angel Caturay is one of those parents. He drops his son, Angel Miles, off at the San Diego School for Creative and Performing Arts at 7:30 a.m. each morning. Angel Miles then has to wait outside of the school's locked gates until 8 am.

10News went by the school at 7:40 a.m. on Thursday morning and found more than two dozen other students also waiting. Some said they had been there since 7 am. Aside from one parking lot attendant, there was no adult supervision.

The gates at SCPA don't open until 8 a.m. School begins at 8:35 a.m.

"Who's responsible?" Caturay asks. "When you drop your kids off, you feel the school should be responsible while they're here at school."

In a statement, a district spokesperson told 10News that, "Students left without supervision is a safety risk... the principal has been working with parents to help them identify solutions."

Caturay wants to know if the library, cafeteria or classroom could be opened for students to wait in. His son says it's challenging to use that time for homework.

"There's a lot of groups just sitting down and talking," says Angel Miles. "There are no tables. You're bending your back over, and that can get uncomfortable."

The District addressed the issue in a letter to parents last year. Part of it reads, "just because some parents may be unable to provide healthy sleep hours for their teens does not mean that school district policy should prevent all of their teen students from getting the amount of sleep doctors say they need to be healthy and safe."

The District plans to have every high school go to the later start times by next fall.

Meanwhile, the California Legislature recently passed SB 328. The new law will require all middle and high schools in the state to start later in the day. It specifies start times no earlier than 8 am for middle schools, and 8:30 a.m. for high schools.

Governor Newsom has not signed the bill yet, and it wouldn't go into effect until 2022. Former Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2018, saying start times are an issue that individual school districts need to decide.

RELATED: Proposed bill would require later start times for middle and high schools

Caturay says he understands the decision that SDUSD made. When he emailed the principal at SCPA, he was told about the District's bus program. District files show that costs $500 per year for the first student, $250 for the second. Caturay says he can't afford that, and neither can many other families.

He hopes the District can do a little more to accommodate families like his.

"It would be nice if they could open up the library," he says. "At least they (the students) could get some work done, study work ahead of time. Then their time wouldn't be wasted just sitting here."