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LA Unified board unanimously approves girls-only STEM school

Craig Clough | September 2, 2015

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Girls in HSThanks to an unanimous vote by the LA Unified school board yesterday, the district will become the first in California in a decade to open a girls-only traditional public school.

The approval of the the school was anti-climactic in that the board had already approved it by a vote in April, but at the time needed to still secure a waiver from the state Department of Education, which it now has.

The vote dedicates over $231,000 for the district to convert a traditional classroom building at Los Angeles High School in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood into the new Girls Academic Leadership Academy. The school, which is scheduled to open next fall with space for 450 students, will begin with students only in 6th and 9th grades and will grow one grade level each year.

“I am pleased to support the expansion of STEM-focused learning environments for girls in District 1,” board member George McKenna, who represents the mid-Wilshire area, said in a statement. “The need has never been greater. Media reports constantly bemoan the lack of females in tech-related sectors of our economy. Graduates of GALA will be fully prepared to enter the higher education discipline of their choice and help to expand the diversity of those represented in STEM-and other technology-related careers.”

The vote completes an long journey for Elizabeth Hicks, a counseling coordinator for LA Unified who had the idea for the school several years ago but had to overcome numerous legal quagmires and conflicting federal, state and local policies on the issue of single sex schools in a public school system.

Hicks passionately developed her proposal for years and received enthusiastic support from Superintendent Ramon Cortines when he took over last October.

“It is clear that within our District, our female student population is underserved in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Cortines said in a statement in April. “Not only will this new school help our students discover their potential, think critically and develop important intellectual skills, it will also prepare them for college and beyond.”

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