District recognized for language access, family engagement framework and restorative approaches

Award recipients group photo

Maria Larios-Horton, Sofia Rubalcava, Martha Diaz Anaya, Anélix Diaz-Quiñones, and Paula Tomé Pallé
From Left to Right: Maria Larios-Horton, Sofia Rubalcava, Martha Diaz Anaya, Anélix Diaz-Quiñones, Paula Tomé Pallé, , translators and interpreters of the Santa Barbara Unified School District Language Access Unit and Maria Larios-Horton, Director of English Learner and Parent Engagement.

Laura Wooster Dorfman
Laura Wooster Dorfman, Santa Barbara Unified School District Restorative Approaches Teacher on Special Assignment (RA TOSA). Laura Wooster Dorfman coordinates the districtwide implementation of Restorative Approaches.

The California Department of Education Honors Santa Barbara Unified School District as a 2018 California Exemplary School District

Santa Barbara Unified School District receives the 2018 California Distinguished District honor, a statewide recognition of California school districts that have implemented model practices that have had a positive impact on student and family engagement, and student outcomes. The honor also recognizes districts’ success in making exceptional gains in implementing academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education for all students by meeting state indicators as described on the California School Dashboard. The award is a part of an expansion of the Distinguished Schools Program to include the California Exemplary Districts. State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, presented the district with the award at a California School Recognition Program Awards Ceremony on May 3, 2018 in Anaheim.

“We know public school districts in California are being held to higher standards to improve student performance that define a quality education,” said Jacqueline Reid, Ph.D, Santa Barbara Unified Board President. “This recognition is a testament to the positive direction of Santa Barbara Unified to advance all of our schools to meet those standards. We have tremendous pride in the dedicated and talented staff that are a part of our school community who promote these goals every day.”

The 2018 California Exemplary District award specifically recognizes Santa Barbara Unified for its commitment to language access, family engagement and restorative approaches. Examples of the efforts that were honored include:

  • Strengthening student outcomes by employing a Framework for Family Engagement coupled with parent programming, and linguistic access for families who are limited or non-English proficient through translation and interpretation services.
  • Santa Barbara Unified’s Language Access Unit interpreter/translators training of approximately 100 bilingual staff to strengthen the communication between school and home.
  • Expanding Restorative Approaches strategies that aim to promote positive school climate and build strong relationships among members of the school community. Restorative Approaches resolve conflict and repair harm through dialogue in order to allow all parties to be heard, with emphasis on the practical consequences of harm caused more so than punitive discipline.
  • Santa Barbara Unified’s three traditional high schools saw a 40-percent drop in student suspensions this year compared to 2017, a decrease attributed to new dean of student engagement positions created to strengthen the implementation of Restorative Approaches, including proactive and preventative strategies schoolwide.

Santa Barbara Unified serves approximately 15,000 students in grades preschool through 12. Demographically, the district is comprised of students who are Hispanic/Latino (60%), White (34%), Asian (3%), Black/African American (1%). The district is further made up of students who are low-income/socioeconomically disadvantaged (52%), English learners (23%), students with disabilities (13%), and homeless and foster youth (10%). Santa Barbara Unified provides various programs of choice in its elementary schools that include Core Knowledge (Santa Barbara Community Academy), International Baccalaureate (Harding University Partnership School), and Montessori (Adams Elementary School). In junior high and high schools it offers a wide range of pathways, including Career Technical Education, California Partnership Academies, International Baccalaureate and dual enrollment options. The District is committed to the academic and socio-emotional success and well being of all its students. Three priorities frame the district’s work: 1) equity in student outcomes, 2) improving educational and operational practices and 3) evaluating the effectiveness the district’s work.

For more information about the California Distinguished Schools program, please visit the California Department of Education’s Distinguished Schools program’s website at: www.cde.ca.gov/ta/sr/cs/