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Anger, confusion, uncertainty dominate town hall

Cynthia E. Griffin | 11/28/2012, 5 p.m.

More than 100 parents, students, teachers, school district employees alumni, and community stakeholders turned out Tuesday night for a community town hall on the future of Crenshaw High School and, in addition to having a lot of questions about how the "reconstitution" of the school would specifically work, there was a very audible undercurrent of anger at the school district for failing to talk directly with all or any stakeholders about how to help turn around the academic program.

Many were also angry at the Los Angeles Unified School District for failing to provide adequate resources to the campus, and questioned how reconstituting would make any difference, if the needed resources were not forthcoming.

According to an Oct. 24 letter sent out to school staff, LAUSD Superintendent of Schools John E. Deasy, says that after reviewing four years of student achievement data, the school's results have either stagnated or in some cases declined.

Consequently, the letter said, effective immediately, Crenshaw will come under the direct supervision of the Intensive Support and Innovation Center, which will take over the work of the Greater Crenshaw Education Partnership (GCEP).

GCEP is the community-school partnership that was formed in an effort to improve the school's academic performance.

The letter goes on to inform readers that three magnet schools will be created at Crenshaw that will be open to all resident youth, and any other students who wished to apply.

The letter added that the curriculum at the magnet schools will be rigorous with college and career-ready pathways provided for students. Additionally, a full complement of Advanced Placement courses will be imbedded within the schools. The district will also immediately begin to explore the International Baccalaureate option.

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) offers high-quality programs of international education to a worldwide community of schools. There are more than 900,000 IB students in more than 140 countries.

As part of this transition to the magnet schools, Deasy writes: "all current staff members at Crenshaw will be invited to apply for positions in the transformed school. In addition, the leadership of Crenshaw will be redesigned to support the new school configuration. There will be an assistant principal who will oversee the overall operations at the school, and each magnet school be led by an instructional supervisor."

The transformed Crenshaw is supposed to launch July 1, 2013.

And although the letter promises that LAUSD will conduct a series of meetings to seek input from stakeholders and community partners during a comprehensive needs assessment and plan-writing process, no such get-togethers have been detailed as of yet.

And that was at the crux of many of the questions asked at the town hall.

Parents of special needs students wanted to know some specific and key details.

"What if none of the magnet schools is a fit for my son's success," asked one mother, who posed the additional question of whether or not the adult educational assistant who goes to class with her child would have reapply for his or her job.