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State Grants CUSD Relief for Sandy Hook-Related Absences

The lower attendance, however, didn't occur until seven days later after the rampage. A sheriff's official blames Facebook rumors.

A candlelight vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook/Newtown shooting. Patch file photo
A candlelight vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook/Newtown shooting. Patch file photo

The California Department of Education has approved Capistrano Unified’s request for relief from the financial implications of so many students staying home from school after the Sandy Hook/Newtown shooting, despite those absences being logged seven days after the rampage – which was also the day before winter break began.

The decision can make the district whole after suffering a hit of $123,344 in lost revenues.

Schools receive money based on student attendance. And state law allows school districts to be reimbursed if an emergency precipitates a sudden drop in attendance.

On Friday, Dec. 14, a gunman walked onto a Connecticut elementary campus and started shooting indiscriminately at staff and students, killing 26.

A week later, on Dec. 21, all six comprehensive high schools and Shorecliffs Middle School in San Clemente and Niguel Hills Middle School in Laguna Niguel collectively experienced a 10 percent drop in attendance.

In its application for assistance, the school district included a letter from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department that said a Dana Hills High student posted Dec. 15 on Facebook a rumor of a possible attack on his school the coming Friday. By Monday, deputies had determined the threat not credible, something they confirmed again on Tuesday.

Rumors, however, persisted, said Sgt. Nancy Wilkey in her letter that accompanied the district’s request.

“Students reacted by generating more comments, concerns and rumors that were visible for thousands of students to see through social media networking sites and text messaging,” she wrote. “Families were in panic mode.”

fact checker August 31, 2013 at 03:57 AM
The bottom line is that the folks at CDE were satisfied that the discrepancy in attendance met the standard for reinstatement of ADA funds. I can't imagine why anyone would object to a successful bid by CUSD to recover much needed funds. Unless, of course, they are looking for any sign of malfeasance and eager to point the finger at whatever district source is responsible for the application, factual or not.
Capo Parent September 02, 2013 at 12:52 PM
CUSD claim was pure BS. That being said, given how bad CUSD is screwed every year by the state, it should take money from the state whenever possible, even under false pretense. You don't see LAUSD, SFUSD and like offering to share the millions & millions in extra money they get at the expense of CUSD and other similar school districts.
fact checker September 02, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Oxymoron Capo Parent?
Capo Parent September 04, 2013 at 12:22 AM
FC The pot shouldn't call the kettle black. FYI it's called reality.
fact checker September 04, 2013 at 06:49 PM
The word was directed at your comment CP, not you. And the reality is that CUSD followed the rules and got a reimbursement.

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