Parents of students who are learning English — some of whom are also learning the language themselves — said having a superintendent who speaks their language and treats all communities the same are two very important aspects.
During Thursday's community input meeting, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District's English Learners Advisory Committee (DELAC) gave its two cents on the district's strengths and weaknesses, and what they want in a new superintendent.
"We're looking for the new superintendent to have the same interest in this group," said DELAC co-Chairwoman Maricela Lopez. "What we're all looking for right here is to continue this group."
"It's a very important arm of the district," added co-chairwoman Marbella Venegas.
DELAC is made up of parents of students who are learning English, or who have been reclassified as English-language proficient. More than 30 parents attended Thursday's meeting.
The parents also said they want a schools chief who has experience working with communities and understands English learners.
Residents said the district was doing a good job with its preschool and bullying-prevention programs, but it needs to improve its academics, particularly math and science, and the cleanliness of school bathrooms.
District officials have held input meetings at one elementary and one high school in each high school zone, as well as with different employee groups. The final community input meeting is 9 a.m. Monday at the district's headquarters, 2985 Bear St., Costa Mesa.
"This meeting is very important for us," Lopez said. "It's where we can come and express our hopes and needs for our kids."
More than 5,000 Newport-Mesa Unified students were classified as Spanish-speaking English learners last year, according to the state Department of Education. Vietnamese is the second-most spoken language in the district, with nearly 60 students.
If You Go
What: Final superintendent search community input meeting
When: 9 a.m. Monday
Where: District Education Center, 2985 Bear St., Costa Mesa