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A tale of two high schools, stakeholders and LAUSD

Cynthia E. Griffin | 10/10/2012, 5 p.m.

Additionally, the school is suffering from a great deal of instability in its leadership ranks, with four principals in the last five years, according to long-time teacher Alex Caputo-Pearl, who is also the lead teacher of the school's social justice and law academy.

According to Jitahidi, the resources the school were promised were never forthcoming.
Caputo-Pearl said some of that lack of support comes in the guise of no help for the school's new principals.

"[One] of the principals came in from outside the district, and when you are not familiar with LAUSD, it's a whole new ballgame," said Caputo-Pearl. "Even if you are the most experienced principal in the world in another district, LAUSD has its own set of dynamics, and you need somebody with deep understanding to help you."

The veteran educator said the principal also needs a team of assistant principals who are experienced and have skill-sets that match each other. That is one resource that has been inconsistent, admitted Caputo-Pearl. He said there have been 30 some assistant principals in the last eight years at the school, and last year was the best in terms of skill-set match, Unfortunately he said there were only two assistant principals for a campus of more than 2,000 students.

He also noted the irony of how budget cuts have impacted the school.

In one case, the college counselor has been moved into a role of providing general counseling services, leaving parents and students frustrated that there is no one to provide assistance to help with the college application process.

"It's not good, when you have more police assigned to the campus that you do college counselors. It sends the completely wrong message," lamented Caputo-Pearl, who said he has attended the various community meetings because of the rumors he heard that the superintendent was planning to restructure the school.

"Superintendent Deasy has said to different people that he wants to restructure Crenshaw, which for him often means reconstitution. And when he's been asked if he plans on reconstituting Crenshaw, he hasn't denied it. That is one of the reforms of choice that Deasy and others in his circle use," asserted Caputo-Pearl.

Reconstitution often means that all of schools employees are essentially fired and must re-apply for their jobs.

". . . that is not something that is going to work for the kids," contended Caputo-Pearl. "You've got teachers who have long-term relationships with sponsoring programs that are very important for the kids, who are institutions in the schools in terms of academic programs. You've got alumni who teach at the school and community members work at the school as faculty and staff."

The threats of re-constitution have had a dampening effect on the school's ability to bring in outside funding to address some of its needs, said Caputo-Pearl.

While many things are not working at Crenshaw, and people on the ground at the campus are well aware of what does not, the Urban League's Strudwick-Turner said there have been some key gains in the last few years.