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Teachers, parents, supporters and students picketed outside Crenshaw High School to protest teacher layoffs in May, 2009.
Students at Crenshaw High School will have a lot of new teachers when they return to school in the fall. That’s because roughly half of the school’s teachers were not rehired as part of a campus reorganization ordered by Superintendent John Deasy.
The reorganization closed the chronically low-performing school and transformed into three magnets: Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA); Business Entrepreneurship Technology (BET); and Science, Technology, Engineering, Math & Medicine (STEMM) academies.
A magnet program for gifted students that was already at the school was also closed. Its students will be folded into the new magnets.
“These three were selected by the community as a way of enticing those students that live in the Crenshaw attendance area to come to Crenshaw and not get on a bus and go off to another non-Crenshaw school,” said George Bartleson, director of Intensive Support and Intervention at LAUSD.
As part of the transformation, Crenshaw teachers who wanted to stay at the school were told to apply for positions within the new magnet. Of the 59 teachers who went through the interview process, 31 were selected. Ten more teaching positions remain to be filled. Bartleson, who led the transformation effort, said he expects those positions to be filled within the next two weeks.
LAUSD hasn’t announced the identities of the hired teachers yet. Bartleson said the schools will hold an open house later this summer to allow parents to meet the new and returning teachers.
Crenshaw High has consistently ranked among the lowest performing schools in the district. In recent years, the number of students showing proficiency in English has hovered between 17 and 22 percent. Fewer than three percent of the students have shown proficiency in math.
In January, school board members voted to back Deasy’s plan for restructuring the school. The decision transferred control over the school away from the Greater Crenshaw Educational Partnership, a non-profit corporation that had operated the campus for years.
The restructuring was protested for months by many parents and members throughout the community, who worried about the disruption it would cause. Critics say too many educators have passed through the school already.
“When you think about reconstituting a school, that means breaking up something that has been the center of that community, which is their education system,” said Ashley Franklin, an organizer with the Community Rights Campaign, a group that fought against the transformation.
Bartleson said he included community members in the recent teacher hirings, asking many to join the interview panels.
“I can tell you, after having over 50 interview panels, I could not have done this without parents, students, community members and alumni helping me in this process,” Bartleson said.
Spots at the magnet schools will be guaranteed for students within the school’s boundaries. Remaining seats will be open to students from throughout the district.