Dear ESUSD Family, 

It is hard to believe we are well into our second semester. In this message, I would like to feature several important safety updates, as well as highlight a number of special accomplishments.  

 Black Heritage Month

As February comes to an end, I want to express gratitude for all our school sites’ recognition of Black Heritage Month while I highlight one of the most unique events, conceived and planned by El Segundo High School (ESHS) students. Black Heritage Month celebrates the contributions of African Americans in history and present day, and the ESHS Black Student Union Club planned an inclusive event at a local coffee house with an opportunity for students to participate in an “open mic.” Students expressed themselves through powerful poems, songs and thoughts that genuinely contributed towards a deeper sense of Eagle community where all students are seen, heard, supported and loved for who they are. Board members Dieema Wheaton, Frank Glynn, and Tracey Miller-Zarneke, along with Principal Steve Gebhart and a group of ESHS teachers (some of whom also shared on the open mic), were all deeply impressed after attending this very special event. 

Release of School Safety Recommendations

As part of our continuous cycle of improvement to make sure all of our students and staff are safe at our schools, the El Segundo Unified School District (ESUSD) contracted with Actus Consulting, a leading firm on school safety and security, to conduct a comprehensive re-assessment of all of our schools and safety protocols. This consultancy firm also provided recommendations to improve and enhance safety protocols and practices. On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, Dave Klug from Actus Consulting will present his recommendations to the ESUSD Board of Education at the Board meeting that opens at 6:00 pm.  A copy of the report is attached to the Board agenda. 

Please know that before  enacting any change in current practice, ESUSD wants to gather input from all of our  stakeholders. Parents, faculty and staff will be invited to complete a survey to garner input regarding safety on each of our campuses. Your input and feedback will be critical as we evaluate the recommendations to determine key priorities as funding becomes available. Over the next two months, ESUSD will collect feedback and will bring recommendations to be considered by the Board of Education in May.  

Opioid Overdose Reversal Medication Available

All of our ESUSD school sites now have the life-saving rescue medication Naloxone available that is used to reverse an opioid overdose. Our District obtained free Naloxone, also known as Narcan, to distribute to our school sites through the California Department of Health Care Services Naloxone Distribution Project. This is in response to the increasing number of drug overdoses, including Fentanyl overdose and poisoning, among youth in California. 

Staff and faculty volunteers have been trained to administer Narcan nasal spray during a suspected opioid-related emergency. It is safe and easy to use, works almost immediately, and is not addictive. Special appreciation goes to Dr. Melissa Gooden, Executive Director of Human Resources  and Livia Nystrom, District Nurse,  for playing an instrumental role in securing and implementing these lifesaving protocols within our school community. 

Congratulations Richmond Street School!

I am honored to share that Richmond Street School has been awarded the California Distinguished School Award for 2023. The award was based upon the school’s performance on the state indicators as specified on the 2022 California School Dashboard.  Information regarding the Dashboard is provided on the CDE California School Dashboard and System of Support web page. Specifically, there were 356 elementary schools who were recognized this year by the California Department of Education who showed excellent work in closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance on assessments results, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates and socioeconomic data.  

On February 16, 2023, Board President Dieema Wheaton and Assistant Superintendent Marisa Janicek joined Principal Carie Oulashian and select faculty members to attend the California School Recognition Program Awards Ceremony. The entire faculty, staff and administration are to be commended for their contribution towards earning this significant recognition as only 6% of California's elementary schools received this recognition this year.

Congratulations El Segundo Middle School!

El Segundo Middle School (ESMS) is one of less than 30 high-performing middle grades schools in Los Angeles County that have been recognized this year by the California Schools to Watch program. The California Schools to Watch program is sponsored by the California Department of Education, the California League of Educators, and the California Middle Grades Alliance in association with The National Forum. To earn this designation, schools must complete an extensive application and host a site visit by middle grades experts. In order to retain the designation, each school is reevaluated every three years. Statewide, there are now 186 California Schools to Watch. 

Congratulations to ESMS Principal Sarah Davlantis and the entire faculty for creating programs that promote academic performance and development of the whole child. The ESMS Eighth Grade Community Project continues to provide students with a relevant and impactful culminating project that allows our students a first-hand experience to make a difference in the world. El Segundo Middle School will be publicly recognized at the California Schools to Watch Celebration in Monterey on March 9, 2023.  

Congratulations El Segundo High School Biomedical Pathway!

We are very proud of El Segundo High School Biomedical Pathway as this partnership was recently featured in an article from UCLA Health highlighting one of the visits from UCLA Anesthesiology earlier this month. In collaboration with the California Society for Anesthesiologists, UCLA Health’s Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine has pioneered Project Lead the Way’s efforts in California since 2017. ESHS is one of only three local high schools that were selected for this exclusive partnership. The entire article can be referenced here

Release of District Readiness Index

Pivot Learning, along with researchers, non-profits, and other educational agencies worked to create a new system to better measure strategic coherence in school districts. Strategic coherence is an essential factor in high-performing school districts due to the stability it provides. The index measures overall organizational health, notes areas of strength and need, and identifies exemplary school districts. Guided by five data collection principles, researchers identify data points that are: 

  1. Actionable, so district leaders can leverage insights from the DRI and make meaningful changes at their district. 
  2. Publicly accessible, so district partners and community members are able to easily access this information year to year. 
  3. Evidence-driven, so all audiences can trust that these features matter for district success. 
  4. Standardized, so district leaders can benchmark progress over time. 
  5. Collaborative, so district leaders, parents, and key partners can work together for sustained organizational improvement. 

The District Readiness Index is an online tool to measure whether a school district has the necessary conditions in place to sustain and scale improvement in student outcomes. I am pleased to share that ESUSD received the highest rating of having a Strong Foundation in all of the categories assessed: Community, Financial Management, Leadership and Governance, School Personnel, and Work Environment

Here is the District Readiness Index link:  District Readiness Index

Here is the link to the ESUSD ranking:  El Segundo Readiness Index

Final Remarks

The second semester is also for our team to take stock to reflect and reassess. Part of taking stock includes ensuring the success of every child. ESUSD has invested in a multi-tiered system of support at each level in order to intervene if a student is struggling. Should you have personal concerns regarding your child’s progress, please reach out to your child’s teacher or counselor to discuss the need for further intervention in order to reach mastery. Let’s work together to ensure the safety and success of all students! 

Warmest Regards,

Melissa Moore, Ed.D.


El Segundo Unified School District