District of Choice has been a much-discussed issue this school year among Walnut Valley Unified School District students, but one Diamond Bar High School sophomore has taken his involvement a step further than mere discussion by actively campaigning to revive the school choice bill.
Hamzah Daud was among those who organized the Aug. 27 DOC rally at Maple Hill Park. After the bill was held up in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, he worked with a WVUSD parent, Teruni Evans, to plan the rally. He helped with reaching out to supporters online, making banners and arranging for parents, teachers and students to speak. Daud said that while there was initially about 10 to 20 people who planned on attending the rally, the final turnout was about 500 people.
“For us, locally, it’s an important issue […] because our entire district depends on DOC students [and] the whole financial backing is from half the students that are DOC,” he said.
The District of Choice bill expired on Aug. 31. Another bill was presented to allow high school students under DOC to graduate from their current high schools, but it failed to pass. There is a possibility of the proposal of a new bill when the legislature meets in December or January.
Walnut Valley Unified School District currently has over 3,400 DOC students enrolled. The end of DOC might require that these students return to the schools in the districts they live in. In addition, the end of DOC will cause WVUSD schools to lose $28 million in funding due to the decrease in students. Daud believes that DOC is an important issue because of how it will affect all WVUSD students.
Currently, Daud is working on lobbying the State Assembly Appropriations Committee, which approves all bills that affect the state finances. Daud said he believes that his experience advocating for DOC illustrates the importance of perseverance when working toward a specific goal.
“I think [my experience] helps you understand that you can start small, but if you’re persistent, if you have the right messaging, and if you know how to get your word out, you could probably get any issue you’re passionate about or that you think needs to be heard out to the public,” he said.
Daud has high hopes that District of Choice will be renewed. Although the final decision could go either way, Daud is confident that the advocation in favor of DOC will have an impact on the results. “We don’t want to just have a compromise. We want [DOC] to be a lasting thing for other incoming students into Walnut Valley, so we’re really hoping we can get the whole thing through.”