L.A. Unified voted Tuesday to revamp Crenshaw High School – one of the worst performing schools in the district. But the plan has some parents and teachers up in arms.
Crenshaw’s 1,500 students will be split into three separate magnet schools. While officials are still working out the details, they told parents last month that the magnet programs are likely to focus on the arts, business and science, and technology, engineering and math.
All six school board members present at the monthly meeting voted unanimously to back Superintendent John Deasy. They agreed that the only way to improve the school’s abysmal academic scores is to scrap its current program.
But parents and students who’d waited more than four hours to speak against the plan could not contain their anger over the board’s decision. They sparred with board president Monica Garcia and member Marguerite LaMotte, who represents Crenshaw and voted in favor of the overhaul.
Protesters dressed in blue and gold — the struggling school’s colors — interrupted the meeting chanting, “The fight’s not over, we will take over.”
That prompted LaMotte to ask: “I want to know why anybody would want their child to go to a broken school?”
Under the superintendent’s plan, the entire staff will be dismantled and anyone who wants to return will have to reapply for their job.
“The purpose of the decision is to ensure that Crenshaw gets dramatically and fundamentally better,” said Deasy to the surly crowd.
Deasy said he’s visited the school 13 times over the past year and a half, “and the quality of instruction is not what it needs to be.”
He said magnet schools have better track records for improving test scores than all other teaching and learning models.
Any student living in the school’s boundaries would be guaranteed a spot, but other students across the district would be able to enroll as well. That could boost enrollment at a school that’s been losing students to nearby Westchester Secondary Charter School.
But parents complain Crenshaw’s problems have more to do with constant change than any particular teaching method. It has had four principals and 33 administrators in the past three years.
Angelina Parker was among 13 parents who pleaded with the board to vote against the conversion.
“We were excluded, now we feel cheated,” she said, her voice beginning to rise. She asked the board to delay the vote until the community had been consulted about the school’s future. “We are angry!,” she shouted into the microphone. Regaining her composure, she continued, telling the board, “It’s easy: include us in any decision concerning Crenshaw High School.”
Tuesday’s decision takes control away from the Greater Crenshaw Educational Partnership — a coalition of local groups that has operated the troubled high school for the past four years.