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Jordan High staff members must reapply for their jobs

January 13, 2011 |  8:24 am

The immediate reaction was disbelief, disappointment and anger among teachers at Jordan High School, who learned Wednesday that they will have to re-interview for their jobs.

L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines announced Wednesday the low-performing school in Watts would be restructured, and all employees would have to reapply.

"I'm really devastated," said one teacher at the Watts school, who asked not to be named because she could lose her job. "The only reason that I hang in there is that I love the kids so much, even when they don't love me."

Under the restructuring plan, employees will be eligible for jobs elsewhere in the nation's second-largest school system.

The plan will divide the Jordan High campus into three small schools run by outside entities. The school's principal told the staff in an after-school meeting Wednesday that two of the three groups were nonprofit charters: The Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools and Green Dot Public Schools.

Charters are free and publicly funded but privately operated. The third group is the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a nonprofit that manages 15 schools on behalf of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Several staff members reacted angrily when the school's chapter chairman for the teachers union suggested that the mayor's group might be better because his schools operate under the collective bargaining agreement.

"You already going to divide us with that one!" a staff member shouted at him.

About 100 school staffers attended the meeting, at which Principal Evelyn Mahmud conceded that she was still learning the relevant details herself.

"We're flying the plane as we're building the engine -- literally," she said. "So there are a lot of unknowns at this point."

Mahmud, in her second year as principal, was brought in last year after serving as the top administrator at Dorsey High School. She noted in an interview that her future at the school also is uncertain.

The school next to the Jordan Downs housing project and other subsidized housing serves students from low-income minority neighborhoods plagued by gangs and crime.

Parents were notified in an automated phone message Wednesday evening and will be receiving letters in the mail, officials said.


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-- Howard Blume

California Schools Guide