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Community Coalition Urges Superintendent King to Adopt an “All Hands on Deck” Approach for South LA
By Sentinel News Service
Published April 7, 2016

Dorsey, Crenshaw and Washington are among the schools losing millions of dollars due to the district’s new formula

Michelle King addressed the Town Hall audience (Community Coalition)

Michelle King addressed the Town Hall audience (Community Coalition)

More than 150 South LA parents and students gathered at the Community Coalition headquarters on Wed. March 30th for a Town Hall with LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King. Leaders were disappointed that Superintendent King did not sign onto a pledge for South LA, but are hopeful for a future partnership.

“Our South LA leaders are excited to develop a partnership with Superintendent King. We are hopeful about deepening our relationship with her and that she will help to advance some of the priorities our leaders presented tonight,” said President & CEO Alberto Retana of Community Coalition.

The South Los Angeles community pledge developed by leaders from the Community Coalition calls on the Superintendent to:

  • Adopt an all hands on deck approach for targeted investment in South LA;
  • Adopt the community’s index created in 2014 that ranks Crenshaw, Washington and Dorsey higher on the list;
  • Increase investment in restorative justice by adding three full time employees at the highest need schools.

“I’m concerned that an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to the district is going to leave South LA with the crumbs,” said Brenda Hearn, a parent of two boys at Dorsey High School, who applauded Superintendent King’s leadership in her graduation strategy, but raised concerns for her children. “I want to see to an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to South LA.”

(Community Coalition)

(Community Coalition)

Community leaders called on the Superintendent to use the community’s Student Need Index, a formula created by the Advancement Project, InnerCity Struggle and Community Coalition that ranks the highest need schools. According to analysis by the Advancement Project, some of the highest need schools are losing out in a big way.

Crenshaw High School was expected to receive more than one million dollars in supplemental and concentration funds in the 2015-2016 academic year, but only received $303,908 because it ranked lower in need on the district’s formula.

Takara Haslem, junior at Crenshaw High School called into question the district’s formula. “Last year, at the Crenshaw [High School] graduation, one of the graduating seniors asked for a moment of silence. They recognized five students from the class of 2015, who were killed that previous year. This is not the experience of the average LAUSD student, but this is the reality of the average South LA student.”

Students also highlighted the progress that has been made due to district investment at Fremont High School that they hope to be replicated across more South LA schools. Daniel Madrigal, a senior at Fremont High School, who suffers from complications of a liver transplant, credits the investment of a restorative justice counselor with his plans to graduate this year.

(Community Coalition)

(Community Coalition)

Madrigal called upon the Superintendent to bring three restorative justice counselors to the highest need schools. “Many of my peers at Fremont deal with issues like poverty, gangs, drugs, and violence. And we can’t leave it up to our teachers alone. We need trained restorative justice counselors. But in a school with over 2,000 students, one restorative justice counselor is not enough,” said Madrigal.

Since 2007-2008, and the 2013 passage of the School Climate Bill of Rights, the district has decreased days lost to suspension by 92%. However, LAUSD has yet to attach significant resources towards teacher training and full time staffing for positive disciplinary practices.

“We have a huge opportunity to advance equity and justice with Superintendent King’s leadership. But we need her commitment and we won’t stop until we get we need,” said Jaquay Jones, an eleventh grader from Crenshaw High School

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