Parents Continue Advocating For Long Awaited School

While one board member questions the cost, Wedgeworth Elementary School parents hope for progress on the development

Despite vocal opposition and a divided community, other residents are hopeful that Wedgeworth Elementary School will be turned into a K-8 school of permanent buildings.

To combat the vocal critics to the $52 million development, these parents and their children have also taken to public comment to advocate for their cause.

“Wedgeworth, again 100% portable, very high population, the actual playground area is very tiny and small, if anything were to happen and you’re going to evacuate anyone, where are they to evacuate to,” district resident Vivian Kuo asked the board on Nov. 14. “There’s no question about it, Wedgeworth Elementary needs permanent structures. It’s a basic safety requirement for the students and the faculty.”

“We’re here for our kids, we’re here for our school,” district resident Melody Hornstra said before the board on Sept. 26. “Let’s have [the] school, let’s have baseball.”

Several others also spoke at the Sept. 26 meeting in favor of the project as others spoke against.

“I hope the board members will prove to help us to build the school. Like I said, I’m not here to divide,” district resident Eve Hong said before the board. “I hate divisions. I hate yelling. I hate screaming because I know none of those will be effective. It’s only if we work together, and hopefully build something that we can all be able to sustain.”

The parents have also attended the town halls about the Wedgeworth project and left several comments in support of the project.

“I am the parent of a 5-year-old at Wedgeworth who has just started kindergarten. I am thrilled that she is fortunate enough to be at an academically awarded school, but disappointed — in fact appalled — at the conditions of the school,” one individual wrote at the town hall. “She has no plumbing in her trailer ‘classroom’ and would be crushed in any earthquake. The cafeteria, which serves as the meeting room for all events can hold 40 children, not 600. I respectfully ask you to approve the construction.”

Others in the audience disputed the poor conditions of Wedgeworth by stating that improvements were needed throughout the district and particularly in La Puente.

Parents then outlined other needs the school has yet to fill.

“We need more restrooms, six is not enough,” another individual wrote. “We need a proper cafeteria.”

The restroom situation at the school is a safety hazard according to faculty members and parents, several students wait in long lines to use the restroom and teachers often spend their 15 minute breaks waiting for a turn to use the facilities.

The Wedgeworth Elementary cafeteria is the same building that hosted the town halls and several other events on the school campus, and according to parents and staff, the school does not have the ability to cook there and has most of their meals sent in from a nearby facility.

“Just look around this room. This is our multiple purpose room,” a third individual wrote. “This is our kitchen, cafeteria, auditorium, activity room and after school room. The kids are here every single day fighting for a space to eat, fighting for a bathroom to use and fighting for a space to play.

More comments that are in support and against the project can be read as well.

The recall initiative was started by the Hacienda La Puente Movement group, who felt the board was not representing the interests of the entire district. Following that, one parent even set out to recall Jeffrey De La Torre, the single board member not targeted by the HLP Movement group, and served him a formal notice to recall him.

It has been said that Brandon Ireland’s notice of intention to recall did not progress in the process with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder, but the status of that recall petition is currently unknown at this time.

More information about the recall process can be found in SAC.Media’s prior coverage on the HLP Movements formal serving of the recall papers to the other four board members.

While the community remains divided on the proposal, some individuals have offered compromises. Hacienda Heights Improvement Association member Adriana Quinones, who serves on the community relations and newsletter committee, spoke with Wedgeworth’s Principal Paulina Cho after one of the town halls and said she would support making a permanent school for Wedgeworth if it were kept as a K-5 school. Quinones cited cost as a concern with the expansion to K-8, but the two agreed that the current facilities are in poor condition and that a change was needed.

Others have informally suggested that the school move to another location that has permanent structures, locations like the schools that were previously closed by the district, but there has been no movement on either attempt to compromise.

The next steps for residents on both sides of the issue is to attend the public meetings on the Environmental Impact Report. These meetings will be held on Dec. 10 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and on Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the multipurpose room at Wedgeworth Elementary.