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Parents, teachers, students oppose Crenshaw High restructure plan

Parents, students and teachers plan to rally in front of Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters Tuesday in protest of a proposal to restructure low-performing Crenshaw High School.

The Board of Education is expected to vote on Supt. John Deasy's plan to close the school next summer and reopen it the following school year in the form of three magnet schools.

A couple dozen community members rallied at the school Monday afternoon against the plan, contending that they were not included in its development and have yet to be granted a meeting with Deasy to discuss it.

They called on the board to delay the vote and reconsider the plan.

Eunice Grigsby, a graduate of the school who has a son in the 11th grade and three children who graduated from Crenshaw, said that the community had been left in the dark until parents, teachers and students said they heard of the plan to take over the school.

"Take your hands off of Crenshaw," she said, to loud cheers. "If you want to talk to us about improving what we got going on here — come talk to us about that."

Under the new format, the Leimert Park campus would retain its name and traditions, including its respected arts and athletics programs.

Local residents and current students would be guaranteed admission to the new programs, which as “magnets” would be open to students from across the nation’s second-largest school system.

The school’s restructuring includes requiring staff members to re-interview for their jobs. Based on recent efforts at other L.A. schools, the result could be that few current teachers would return.

Deasy has said Crenshaw’s academic results required assertive action on behalf of students.

The school with 1,500 students — nearly all from low-income families — has made virtually no progress in raising student achievement in English and math. The percentage of students at grade level in English has even declined slightly over four years, from 19% to 17%; in math, the figure has inched up from 2% to 3%.

This year there was an upward bump in the school’s overall Academic Performance Index score, which includes results from all students tested. The school's score rose from 554 to 569, which still leaves it among the lowest-performing in the state and in the L.A. school district. The school has experienced an enrollment decline, with many potential students choosing other district schools or independent, publicly funded charter schools.

Speakers at the rally blamed the district itself for the school's slow progress. The school has suffered through a parade of administrators and has consistently lacked support, they said. The transition to magnet programs would create more problems and be disruptive for students, they said.

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