Not gonna stand for it

DM students stage sit-in to protest return to full day


Freshman Bahr Malinovitz, speaks to dozens of DMHS students who staged a “sit in” after fourth period Thursday protesting the Scottsdale Unified School District decision to move to a full-day schedule March 15 after spring break ends. “Eighty-seven percent of high school students voted against full day. To see that our voices were not considered, not heard, is insane,” she said, urging the crowd to email school board members in protest. “Because we, as the 87 percent, need to be heard, need to be addressed, need to be considered.”

From Staff Reports

Dozens of Desert Mountain High School students gathered outside after fourth period Thursday to protest the Scottsdale Unified School District governing board’s decision to return to full day after spring break.

“Eighty-seven percent of high school students voted against full day. To see that our voices were not considered, not heard, is insane,” said Bahr Malinovitz (9), who, along with fellow freshman Dorsa Ghazanfari, helped organize the protest.

Since the beginning of the school year, the district had adopted a modified block schedule, with students attending periods 1-3 and periods 4-6 on alternating mornings. Students and parents could choose whether to attend in person or online; afternoons were dedicated to enrichment.

But the school board voted 3-2 on Tuesday to return to a full day, citing successes of pilot projects and area districts who have already returned to full day.

In a press release on Wednesday, SUSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel cited several factors that led to the decision:

  • The availability of COVID-19 vaccines, which has resulted in the vaccination of a majority of SUSD’s teachers and staff.
  • Public health data indicating that COVID cases among students tend to be relatively minor.
  • The detrimental impacts being seen on students’ academic success and social-emotional health as a result of their not being in school for full days of instruction for the past year.
  • The development of lunchtime mitigation strategies for each middle school and high school campus
  • The successful return to full days of learning by neighboring school districts.

“There really isn’t another opportunity to do this if we don’t do it at the beginning of the fourth quarter,” Dr. Menzel told the Board. “It just doesn’t make sense from an implementation standpoint.”

Middle and high school parents were split in their support of a return to full day–about 52 percent of about 5,600 parents surveyed by the district preferred to stay on the current schedule.

However, recent polling indicated more than eight of 10 teachers and students indicated they opposed a full-day schedule. About 84 percent of the 425 middle and high school students responding to a Scottsdale Education Association survey preferred to keep the current schedule.

And more than 87 percent of students also favored the current schedule, according to a Student Advisory Board survey of more than 4,200 high school students, according to the SUSD governing board release.

Fliers sporting “#listentothe87percent” and “text: @89kkg3 to 81010” were distributed to the protest, which lasted into the beginning of fifth period.

“Because we, as the 87 percent, need to be heard, need to be addressed, need to be considered,” Malinovitz told the fellow protesters. “Being here, and talking, and participating, I hope you realize you are speaking on behalf of the majority.”