Parents Crowd Board Room in Support of Menifee Prep School

Parents and children carried signs in front of the school district office in support of the Meni...

Parents and children carried signs in front of the school district office in support of the Menifee Valley Preparatory School.
An overflow crowd of more than 100 people, mostly supporters of the proposed Menifee Valley Preparatory School, showed up to make their feelings known at today's meeting of the Menifee Union School District board.

Today's petition by Heritage Classical Charter Schools to open a charter school in Menifee was the second to come before the MUSD board. The first petition was denied last year, with district officials citing the need for more specifics in the proposal, especially regarding instruction for English language learners and alignment with the state's new "common core" curriculum standards.

A subsequent appeal to the Riverside County Office of Education was denied in January, sending HCCS officials back to the MUSD with a more detailed proposal -- and more than a room full of supporters.

Although it was made clear at the outset that the board would not rule on the petition until sometime later, parents interested in sending their children to Menifee Valley Preparatory School were out in force. Many stood in front of the district office on Menifee Road, holding up signs and waving to passing cars. Although the board meeting room couldn't begin to hold all those who showed up, many parents waited outside and tried to listen in through the door.

Board chair Ron Ulibarri prefaced the hour-long public hearing by announcing that the board would listen to all who wished to speak, but that a decision wouldn't be made until a later meeting, probably on May 6. That didn't stop 15 speakers from addressing the board with passionate pleas to grant the petition.

"I have a first grader and a third grader at Chester Morrison Elementary School," Janelle Erickson said from the speaker's podium. "My third grader is doing well there. My first grader is also doing very well academically, but he's not thriving because he's being overlooked. His teacher is overextended in an overcrowded class.

"I might choose to keep my third grader at Chester Morrison, but I would like the choice to send my first grader to Menifee Valley Prep."

Teacher-to-student ratio was a common complaint of those who spoke. Many said their children were in classes of 30 or more students. The goal at Menifee Valle