The Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education acknowledged growth in its management of student behavior, progress on construction projects as well as the impact of conflict in Israel on students and families at its Oct. 24 meeting.
Board members opened the meeting by recognizing Hawthorne Elementary School’s adoption of Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), a set of guidelines and best practices regarding discipline and the encouragement of good behavior. Earlier this month, the school received a Silver Implementation Award from California PBIS, an organization tracking the development of the program at campuses throughout the state.
A handful of Hawthorne Elementary students spoke to the board about their participation in their school’s brand of the PBIS system, Hawthorne HERO. The program is named after four characteristics it promotes: honorable, engaged, responsible and open-minded.
“You hear us talk about the data, but what this really is, is an opportunity,” BHUSD Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy said. “You heard students talk about, ‘That’s what we do at Hawthorne. That‘s not what we do at Hawthorne.’ And that to me is the capstone of the entire program, when we start to talk about what we do here, and how we shine here and what we don’t do. That’s the best way to send a message about who we are.”
Board members and district officials also shared positive developments regarding funding for ongoing construction at Beverly Hills High School. District staff found overlap in the scope of several projects, allowing them to redirect almost $1.3 million to two previously unplanned campus improvements: the construction of an upper athletics field and a grand lawn.
“I think it’s really wonderful to call out how much work you’re getting done and how efficient you are about doing it,” Board member Mary Wells said of the district’s Construction and Facilities Department. “It’s saving money and finding money in our budget to allow us to do much more work than we ever thought we could do.”
The last item of business addressed at the board’s meeting was the drafting of a resolution pledging the district’s support for Israel. The district unanimously approved the document, which bore similarities to another resolution passed by the City Council last week.
Board members also highlighted events such as “Wear Blue and White Day” organized by student groups to show solidarity with victims of Hamas. And the Beverly Hills High School Jewish Club has invited members of the community to a vigil at their campus on Oct. 30.
The board also heard from two BHUSD parents who gave public comments that their children were subjected to antisemitism at school. Ayala Anavim and Daphna Hollander told board members their daughters were with a group having a private discussion about the conflict between Israel and Hamas when a substitute teacher allegedly inserted themself into the conversation. The parents said the substitute teacher described the Israeli government as colonizers, drew comparisons with the apartheid era in South Africa and called the students ‘white supremacists.’
“Even if a teacher is trying to provide a different perspective, these are damaging words and reflect a specific end of the spectrum of any argument,” Hollander said.
She and Anavim expressed displeasure with the way administrators handled that incident.
Board members thanked Anavim and Hollander for coming forward with their concerns and calling out alleged antisemitism. In a statement after the meeting, Bregy told the Courier, “The allegations regarding a substitute teacher were taken with the utmost seriousness and action was taken immediately.”
He added, “Due to state regulations, we are unable to discuss personnel matters. BHUSD’s position regarding the recent terrorist attacks against Jewish people in Israel has been unequivocal.”