Persistence Pays for Mom
Woodland mom Vickie Chavarria with
her twin sons, from left, Dominic and Donevan, who will now
be enrolled in the same kindergarten classroom at Maxwell
Elementary School. Photo: Andy Porras/Democrat
After an apparent enrollment err
by the Woodland Unified School District, a local family is
finally breathing a double sigh of relief.
For nearly five months, the
parents of five year-old twins Dominic and Donevan Chavarria
sought to enroll them in the same kindergarten classroom.
Vickie and Michael Chavarria were
told by school officials, however, that "it was in the best
interest of the twins to be separated."
The Chavarrias rejected the
"We were told that our sons could
attend a private school or be home-schooled, that they could not
be in the same classroom at Maxwell, our neighborhood school,"
said the twins' mom. "We can't afford a private institution and
we could never replace a certified instructor, for a while
things looked pretty bleak."
Acting on advice from another
source, the Chavarrias got the assistance of the Legal Services
of Northern California, which provides empowerment, advocacy,
and access to the legal system to individuals, families, and
communities in 23 counties throughout northern California.
"Rogelio Villagrana, staff
advocate/equal justice works Fellow, proved to be a very
important contact," said Chavarria. "His involvement became very
instrumental in helping us."
Chavarria had contacted several
school officials, including Superintendent Linda Weesner,
Associate Superintendent Dale Weatherford, and Maxwell principal
Sue Alves with respect to her predicament.
"I begin to feel really depressed
and stressed out," said Chavarria. "I also begin to ask around
our community if my situation was unique or what, why were my
twins not able to be together for their first year of formal
Chavarria, who has been a parent
volunteer on behalf of her older son, Mikey, at Maxwell, started
to compile information from other schools in the district.
"I discovered that most of our
elementary schools had twins too," said Chavarria. "They were
with the same teacher. One of the schools, Gibson, had two sets
of twins in the same classroom."
Meanwhile, over at the legal
assistance office, Villagrana was finding out there is no
specific rule regarding twins.
"Carol Conley, from the district
office, stated that there is no board policy on twins being
placed in the same class," said Villagrana. "I then suggested
that perhaps the board should establish such policy, preventing
sad and taxing situations like the Chavarria case."
According to Villagrana,
conferences scheduled with the superintendent and the teachers
involved never materialized.
Chavarria, somewhat desperate and
desiring for the twins to receive formal schooling as soon as
possible, even asked the twins' doctor, Henry Kano, for advice.
The doctor, himself a twin, was quick to send the school his
recommendation to keep them together.
"While having a separate class
may be beneficial in terms of developing independence," wrote
Dr. Kano. "I do not feel that having the twins together in the
same classroom will be detrimental to their development either."
Chavarria contends that she is
all for the education and well being of her twins, whether in
individual classrooms or together. She is quick to point out
also that should the two children create serious class
disturbances with separation an only solution, she will stand
behind a teacher's recommendation.
On Monday, Chavarria received a
call that she had longed for nearly five months. The school
board had heeded Villagrana's petition. She could enroll her
twins at Maxwell and request they be placed in the same
"They always talk about parent
involvement and that one should never give up when embarking on
a worthwhile quest for our children," said Chavarria. "Thanks to
the school board and a very involved fellow, our twins will now
begin their school year, officially."