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The head of the Fresno Unified School District is coming under fire after claims that he instructed his staff use a cell phone app that sends messages without leaving any trace. That practice could raise ethical and legal problems for district superintendent Michael Hanson.

Journalist Mark Arax was the first to report that Hanson allegedly used the Cyber Dust app which claims it leaves no record of any of the messages sent or received.

Eric Paul Zamora / The Fresno Bee

There’s a controversy brewing in Fresno that has school districts up and down the state watching very closely. It all has to do with how districts spend taxpayer money when they build a new school. Traditionally districts would build up reserves or bond money for a new school, and then put the project out to bid for design and construction. The lowest bidder typically would get the job.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

School districts across the valley are trying to figure out what to do with new money intended to help their most vulnerable students. But a letter from the State Department of Education raises questions about whether some of their spending on things like teacher raises is allowed. The interpretations of the new funding formula vary, based on who you ask.

The special funding, known as supplemental and concentration funds, is a big funding boost for schools to help the neediest kids, such as poor students, non-English speakers, and foster kids.

Brooke Ashjian

Local schools have a lot on their plate, preparing students for life, a job and the possibility of a college education. But what about students who likely won't attend college? The answer used to be in vocational education classes, things like auto shop and wood shop. But increasingly those classes have disappeared from schools with the emphasis on standardized testing and college readiness.


A day after the U.S. Department of Education gave eight of California's largest school districts a waiver from provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson praised the decision, saying it will improve accountability and student performance, and "allows us to do work very differently." 

The districts, which include Sanger Unified and Fresno Unified, are all members of a coalition called the California Office to Reform Education or CORE.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Two Valley school districts – Fresno Unified and Sanger Unified – were granted a one-year waiver from requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act today by the U.S. Department of Education. The move will allow school officials to introduce their own plans for a new statewide curriculum and avoid costly penalties under the law.

The districts were among eight in California to receive the waiver, and are all members of a coalition called the California Office to Reform Education, or CORE.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Pao Saephan crouches down in his sun-drenched field. He cups a red jewel in his hand.

In a few more days, his strawberries will be fully ripe. He’ll pick them once they are garnet-colored from stem to tip.

“We want all the strawberries, to be full ripe, full flavor, with 100 percent sugar in them,” says Saephan.

In the past, he would sell the fresh berries at his roadside stand - called Sam’s Strawberry Patch. It’s located at the intersection of Manning Avenue and I Street in Reedley.

Today on Valley Edition we look at the competing tax measures on the November ballot, Propositions 30 and 38. Both promise to protect funding for schools but critics have questioned both, and some political observers have said that the presence of both on the ballot could mean neither will pass. We also talk with a Fresno couple who donated $1 million to fund scholarships for students at Fresno's Tehipite Middle School. And we also learn more about plans for a walk and series of events to raise awareness about asthma in the Central Valley. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A coalition of teachers and education activists gathered today to announce an effort to recall Fresno Unified school board member Tony Vang. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Earlier this Spring, the Fresno Unified School District established a community task force to provide the district with recommendations to help solve the district's dropout problems. FM89's Juanita Stevenson reports on how residents offered their input to the task force at a recent meeting.