Hart District Board Meeting Discusses Hart Mascot, Reopening Schools


Image by Linsey Towles

Hart Union High School District holds their regular governing board meeting

Linsey Towles, The Scroll, Co-Editor in Chief

On Wednesday night the William S. Hart Union High School District held its regular governing Board meeting, touching on a variety of topics and centering on discussion of reopening high schools and changing the Hart High School mascot. Here is a breakdown of what was discussed at the Board meeting:

The meeting opened up with 25 minutes of reviewing public comments after typical beginning procedures for attendance and review of minutes. The public can submit a comment to be read at Hart District Board meetings by emailing [email protected] no later than 4:00 p.m. on the day of the meeting and titling the email “Public Comment.” The Board asks that participants acknowledge that no action will be taken on any item not appearing in the meeting’s agenda.

The bulk of comments concerned the topics of reopening schools and district responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 23 comments submitted by parents and students asking for reopening and two comments encouraging the continuation of distance learning. Next, 11 comments were submitted by the community in support of changing the Hart High School mascot and four were in support of keeping it. 

After public commentary, the Board went on to discuss the topics in that day’s meeting agenda, the first of which concerned the removal of Hart High School’s Indian mascot.

See Related: The Insensitivity of “Indian” Mascots 

The Board heard from guest speaker and representative of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, Rudy Ortega, on the issue of the mascot and impacts on the indigenous population of Santa Clarita. Ortega discussed the history and background of his tribe, the Chumash. 

Ortega’s presentation sparked conversation and response among the other Board members, with Ortega answering questions and how education and awareness for California Native Americans could be spread in for the community in a sensitive manner. 

As of now, no decision has been made on the future of the Hart mascot, but the Board is expecting to continue to hold meetings and “gather information” as well as public opinion in the coming weeks. 

Next on the district agenda was a presentation on how Arroyo Seco Jr. High School is working towards equity. The presentation by Principal Andy Kayne included data on the school’s demographics according to race, as well as student opinions via surveys on mental health on campus. In the past year, the jr. high implemented meeting groups and other methods of support for student’s mental health. 

The powerpoint also went over online learning practices and intervention for struggling students, as well as the next steps planned by the school to continue work on diversity, equity, and wellness. 

The Board meeting then moved on to discussing the future of reopening high schools in the Hart District and developing COVID-19 safety and action plans. The discussion comes as the L.A. County Board of Supervisors announced that TK-6 schools in the county are permitted to begin reopening as of last Tuesday.   

See Related: Santa Clarita Elementary Schools Permitted to Reopen According to L.A. County 

Superintendent Mike Kuhlman presented a powerpoint on the criteria for reopening, potential reopening timelines as well as a graduation update. 

As of now, L.A. County remains in the “purple” widespread tier, a tier above the requirement for considering high school reopenings. High school reopenings cannot be considered until the county stays in the “red tier.” Small cohorts for high needs students, however, are currently permitted for high schools.

It was shared by Superintendent Kuhlman that the district has made major expenditures in safety measures for schools, including nearly $3 million for PPE, $1,744,95 for HEPA filtrations, and about $500,000 for N95 and KN95 masks. Investment in desk partitions, estimated around $500,000 was also discussed. 

Potential timelines for reopening are aimed to align with the regular school semester schedules to avoid disruption. “If we look at those trends of declining adjusted rate cases, it is reasonably possible to think we might be at that stage [of returning] by March 22 for our high schools in the partial blended format,” said Kuhlman. It is important to note that this date can only be considered if the county reaches the red tier or 7/100k case rate.

To find out more about Hart District and their COVID-19 action plan, click here.

Only 65-year-old or older SCV educators and staff members are permitted to receive the vaccine at this time. 

Options for graduation ceremonies are currently being explored, according to the Thursday’s meeting. Groups around the Santa Clarita Valley and superintendents in the L.A. County are reportedly in the process of creating adjusted ceremonies in accordance with each tier and its gathering restrictions. No set plan has been released or confirmed.    

To see the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, click here.