Weekly roundup: Fanning family helps Brea move forward, districts make reopening plans, and more

Bringing a graceful end to a controversy that had divided the Brea community, the grandchildren of the late William E. Fanning asked district officials to remove the former superintendent’s name from an elementary campus.

Brea Olinda Unified’s Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to oblige the request, leveraging the school’s mascot to rebrand the school as the Falcon Academy of Science and Technology, the Orange County Register reported.

An image of paper in a typewriter with the words "Orange County Education News"Questions had been raised in 2017 over a possible connection with the Ku Klux Klan after Fanning’s name appeared on a list in a file marked “KKK” at the Anaheim Public Library. The association was never proven — or disproven — sparking intense debate over his legacy and the school that was named in his honor in 1970.

In a letter to the district, Fanning’s family remembered him as a veteran, a loving father and grandfather, and a compassionate educator who welcomed all children. But in light of the controversy that had become disruptive to the school’s mission to educate students, the grandchildren respectfully invoked their right to reclaim the name.

“Our family absolutely stands with those who demand long-overdue improvements to social justice, racial equality and an end to institutional racism wherever it exists in our country and in our world,” grandson William Fanning wrote.

“Now is the time to move ahead to create a new space,” he added, “with a new perspective.”

Here are some other stories we’ve been following this week:

  • Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom and the Legislature passed a $202.1 billion spending plan for California. The OCDE Newsroom has posted five things to know about K-12 funding for the 2020-21 school year.
  • The California Department of Public Health confirmed this week that youth sports, including conditioning activities associated with high school athletic programs, are not yet permitted under the agency’s current guidance.
  • As President Trump threatened to cut federal funding to school districts that don’t reopen classrooms in the fall, educational leaders in Orange County were moving forward with plans that included in-person and distance learning options.
  • A zero-waste initiative started by a student from Northwood High School in Irvine collects excess food from Bruegger’s Bagels, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Einstein Bro. Bagels franchises and gives it to organizations that feed those in need.
  • The latest figures available from the U.S. Census show Orange County has a higher rate of participation than California and the rest of the country. Ten local cities have already surpassed their 2010 response rates.
  • The Santa Ana Unified school board adopted a school reopening plan that gives families a choice between learning virtually at home or a hybrid model that includes in-person instruction on certain days.
  • Legislation introduced this week seeks to shield school districts from coronavirus-related lawsuits as long as they follow state and local health directives when they reopen.
  • Capping the most challenging year of his career “by far,” Huntington Beach City School District Superintendent Gregory Haulk has announced he’ll retire at the end of the month.
  • L.A. County’s top public health official told local superintendents that the surge of COVID-19 cases could put local school reopening plans in jeopardy. In an off-the-record phone call, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer urged public and private schools to prepare for the possibility of remote learning, the Los Angeles Times reported.
  • A group of Orange County nonprofit organizations, philanthropists and independent restaurant owners have come together to launch a new program called Delivering with Dignity. It seeks to provide 5,000 high-quality meals per week to Orange County’s most vulnerable residents.
  • A new initiative run by county officials, local schools and nonprofits is taking a multi-pronged approach to reducing COVID-19 rates in parts of the county that have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.