COMPTON — Local residents were sent into a tailspin when a social media post alleged that the Compton Unified School District sent out a return-to-school waiver indemnifying the district from any liability if students went back to on-campus instructions and contracted COVID-19.
The Compton Education Association, the union representing teachers, has been at odds with the district over reopening protocols and the proposed Oct 5 date to return some students back to in-class instruction. That date has since been pushed back to Oct. 19.
Union Vice President Carol Hsini posted a photo of a waiver, complete with the district seal with the caption reading, “Dear Community: This is the CUSD waiver which you must sign before bringing your child back to campus. It states that you are VOLUNTARILY bringing your child back to campus. It is NOT mandatory for you to bring your child back to campus. It also states that you can NOT sue the district if your child gets COVID, gets sick, or DIES because you brought your child back to school.
“CUSD is not ready to have students back on campus, it is NOT SAFE. It states that CUSD cannot guarantee your child’s safety. Educators cannot guarantee that social distancing between children will occur. These are kids! They have this waiver because they KNOW it is not safe. They are putting your child and family at RISK and will take ZERO responsibility if someone gets sick or dies.
“EVERY district across the country who has brought even some schools back have had an increase of COVID. CUSD has had staff and educators test positive. Again, if CUSD knew it would be safe to bring your children back, they would NOT have created this waiver!”
The posting started a community discussion on whether the waiver was legitimate. Many noted there was no visible contact information identifying where the flyer originated.
“It [waiver] was passed out to school psychologists at a meeting,” Nancy Loera said. “This is what the district does. They did the same thing with the school minutes. This means that the pressure that the parents are doing is working.”
Many parents claimed to have “heard” about the waiver but none would commit to stating they physically received the waiver from the district directly.
The social media post caused the district to respond on Oct. 5 sending out its own message that emphatically denied that the original post came from district officials.
“Dear Compton Unified Families, we were recently made aware of a liability/waiver form that has been circulating on social media, along with false claims that the district is requiring parents to sign the form and agree to certain COVID-related release of responsibility conditions in order to have their child return to campus. This is not a district-approved form, there has been no such form distributed to parents, and no such form being required of parents.”
The district went on to state that all students are not returning to campus, however, those who identity as: special education, English language learners, preschoolers and other at-risk populations would do so voluntarily.
According to the daily data of COVID-19 cases, provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Health, there are no reported outbreaks of three or more confirmed laboratory cases, related to Compton students.
The city of Compton has a total COVID-19 case count of 4,133 confirmed cases and 73 deaths.
The district has provided testing for all district employees daily, except for Oct. 2 since Sept. 14.
The Compton Education Association responded to the district’s official statement through union President Agbo-ola Dada, who stated the the union’s position was that they have “evidence that CUSD did in fact share the document with members as well as parents.”
When Hsini and Dada were asked to provide copies of said evidence, and/or identify the origin of the document, presented during the referenced meeting, they both declined to do so.
“I don’t know who sent it to the parents but we got a copy and their lawyer affirmed that it was from them,” Dada said.
Dada was unable to identify the name of the firm who confirmed the waiver was in fact released by the district.
“I will have to get back to you,” he said.
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood area. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.