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Crenshaw Protest Heads to Board Decision

Karen Jordan | January 14, 2013

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Crenshaw parent Loutrisha Swafford addressed the crowd at Monday’s event

Even unusually cold temperatures couldn’t dissuade a group of more than 65 Crenshaw High School parents, faculty, staff and students who showed up to rally in front of the school Monday afternoon, many hoisting signs that read “Resources not Reconstitution.”

In a controversial move scheduled for a vote at Tuesday’s Board meeting, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy has proposed discontinuing the school’s current “Extended Learning Cultural Model” in order to convert the school into three different magnet schools.

Daryl Narimatsu, LAUSD’s Administrator of Operations for ISIC, observed the rally from a distance and would only say that LAUSD Public Information Officer Ellen Morgan would be issuing a press release.

Those who oppose the plan say current Crenshaw teachers would have to reapply for their jobs.

“Teachers reapply? We’re not going to tolerate it,” said Loutrisha Swafford, a member of the Crenshaw High School Coalition of Parents whose son is a student at the school. “They want to bring three proposed magnet programs on us. We didn’t know about these. They were pushed on us.”

Amid chants of, “We want justice for all students,” and “Black and brown students rising up,” some beat drums while others stomped and swayed to the beat as they made their voices heard.

Swafford, who said she also has nieces and nephews at the school, was one of many who took to the microphone to tell the crowd they have an obligation to speak out.

She and other parents in attendance said they found out about the proposed changes at the school from their children.

“We must stand and stand for the betterment of our kids’ education.”

Anita Parker, a Crenshaw High School senior, spoke of the school’s lack of resources, including “broken lunch tables” and classrooms filled to the brim with students forced to learn while sitting on the floor.

Another student, Avrie Blackwell, said she was disheartened by Deasy’s proposal.

“It kills everything we’ve worked for.”

Christina Lewis, a special education math teacher at the high school, said she was  concerned about what reconstituting the school would mean for teachers and said she was “so afraid for these students who have made so many strides.”

Angelita Parker stood on the sidelines shouting out chants with others in the crowd. She was one of the parents on hand who was outraged about the plans for the school’s future and said even though her daughter is a graduating senior, “I’m thinking of the other students that are still here.”

Some members of the community with no direct ties to the school also showed up, including Carol David who relocated to the area from the Westside and pointed out that “I’m here because we need public schools.”

A vote on the issue is scheduled to take place at Tuesday’s board meeting. The coalition from Crenshaw planned to carpool from the high school in order to show up in force at the LAUSD board meeting.

The rally was called by a group called the Crenshaw High School Coalition of Parents, whose efforts were aided by a press release sent out by the United Teachers of Los Angeles.

For additional reading:  Los Angeles Wants to “Reconstitute” Pioneering High School Despite Major Gains (Labor Notes), Parents Challenge Crenshaw High Shake-Up (LA Times), Parents to Hear About Future of Crenshaw High School (KPCC), In Los Angeles, a Promising and Progressive School Reform Plan Is Under Threat (Dana Goldstein)

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