LHS superintendent delivers positive presentations to district trustees

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The number of student discipline incidents are decreasing at Lassen High School.

Lassen High School Superintendent/Principal Morgan Nugent isn’t one to toot his own horn, but the proof is in the pudding, as they say.

Nugent delivered a first semester review at the district’s board of trustees’ December meeting and a state of the school address at its January meeting — highlighting many impressive and positive developments at the school.

The information in this story comes from those two reports and a Lassen News interview with Nugent late last week.

“We’ve created a situation where we have families who want to send their kids back to Lassen High School,” Nugent said. “This is the best place to send your student for an education in Lassen County. We’re pretty proud of it … We’ve got a decrease in discipline. We’re seeing an increase in test scores and academic performance — students who are graduating with associate degrees from Lassen Community College. It seems like the community feels they’re sending their kids to the right school. We’re looking forward to watching our programs grow and providing the best education possible to our students in Lassen County.”

Enrollment at Lassen High School is up.

Allegations of racism
While Nugent and his administration have drawn heavy fire from the Native community regarding allegedly applying different standards of discipline based upon race, LHS statistics present a wholly different picture.

Nugent told Lassen News LHS does not discipline students based upon their race. In fact, according to his presentation, the number of discipline cases involving ethnic student groups closely mirrors the percentages of those groups in the student population.

“Our data show our discipline is matching our demographics much more than in the past,” Nugent said. “As we improve our culture here at the school, we’re seeing our discipline decreasing.”

And, while we’re looking at discipline at the high school, according to Nugent’s report, the number of incidents requiring student discipline has been steadily declining during his time on the job. In 2019-2020 there were 320 incidents. That number fell to just 86 in 2020-2021 and 114 in 2021. The student discipline numbers fell in all categories charted by LHS including disruption/defiance; tobacco; alcohol; fighting; obscene acts; drugs; and weapons.

“We’re human,” Nugent said, “and we made mistakes in the past, but anybody who thinks we’re targeting students or doing things that will negatively affect students’ lives … When you look at the numbers, we have more White kids who are being disciplined proportionally than any other group … Look at the numbers. Don’t just look at what one or two individuals are saying.”

According to Nugent’s report, enrollment at LHS has been increasing during his tenure. The district’s total enrollment was about 750 in 2019-2020; about 830 in 2020-2021; and nearly 840 in 2022-2023.

There are continued opportunities for students at Lassen Community College (nursing, fire science automotive technology, early childhood development and dental hygienist). In addition, the number of students enrolled in the fine and applied arts program is increasing as is student activity and involvement on campus.

In addition to increased enrollment, LHS has seen positive growth in its PSAT/SAT/AP scores, course offerings and college course offerings. Areas of concern include CAASPP scores; long-term facility needs; upcoming retirements and hiring quality staff; and future declining enrollment.

Nugent also addressed the school’s financial standing. The positives include no deficit spending and investments in transportation, infrastructure and technology. Area of concern include a three-year outlook: major facilities projects (bleachers, gym and utility upgrades) and the impact of the closure of the California Correctional Center.

According to Nugent’s presentation, progress has been made in the area of transportation with two new diesel busses, four new electric busses and a new Suburban for the Ag Department. Upcoming concerns include the aging fleet of buses and the need for additional Suburbans or vans.

Nugent said the school is making progress in facilities including the parking lots, ADA compliance and the gym, but upcoming concerns include aging facilities (Credence and the modular buildings) electrical upgrades, gym facilities and bleachers.