RIALTO - It's a simple idea but a powerful one.

The Rialto Unified School District's Parent Summit is a comprehensive plan to involve parents with their child's education.

Early Saturday morning, more than 3,000 parents gathered at Rialto High School to participate in the third annual Parent Summit.

Rialto Unified Superintendent Harold Cebrun said the whole idea was to get more parents involved with their children - and not just baking cookies and cupcakes.

"The message was to get parents involved in kids' education and the school district. This is their district. These are their schools," Cebrun said.

Amid a festive, scholastic fair atmosphere with red, white and blue balloons, vendors, cheerleaders and the Eisenhower High School band, parents and children visited booths from each of the 29 schools in the district.

They gathered information and purchased items from each school's booth before packing into the gymnasium in a spirited pep rally.

Then parents attended workshops on a variety of topics throughout the morning.

Cebrun said that in 2009 when he first came to the district, he met Curtis Winton, a Vietnam veteran, who challenged him to do something to involve parents.

"So I challenged him to help me do it," the superintendent said. "Curtis took the lead and became the founder of the Parents Summit. One of the spin-offs was the Parent Institute, which gets even more parents involved with their children."

Winton, the district parent liaison, said he wanted to get everyone together.

The Parent Summit has been moving ever since.

"The relationship is stronger," Winton said. "The parent bond in the district is stronger. The parents are becoming more educated, more functional inside of education.

"We all know if parents don't get involved with their children's education - there's no foundation and no support - then those children are going to fail."

Graduation rates are growing and GPAs in the district are increasing in the last three years - all attributable to the new parent/educator/student program.

"The structure is like a three-legged table," Winton said. "You have students, administration and parents. Any one of the three not doing what they're supposed to do, the table falls."


Reach Michel via email, find her on Twitter @michelnolan, or call her at 909-386-3859.