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Crenshaw High students to address schools transformation

Cynthia E. Griffin- | 5/22/2013, 5 p.m.

A forum hosted by students of Crenshaw High School will be held Tuesday, May 28, from 4-6 p.m. at the Brotherhood Crusade Youth Source Center, and will feature student input on the transformation taking place at the high school.

The forum is sponsored by Taking Action, Sierra Club and the Coalition for Educational Justice, all campus clubs, and will follow a march that takes place beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the flag poles on campus and ending at the Youth Source Center, 5415 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles.

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted to transform Crenshaw from a traditional campus into a series of small magnet schools.

The controversial decision was made, according to the LAUSD, to help improve the academic performance of Crenshaw students, re-invigorate the learning environment and create a school that would attract additional pupils.

But activists are extremely concerned about how the transformation is being done.

As part of the transformation process, teachers, staff and administrators were required to re-apply for their jobs and, according to activists, more than half of the school's teachers were not "selected back."

Additionally, 21 of the 33 teachers rejected were African American and 29 of the 33 were over 40 years old and were typically more likely to be advocates on the campus, according to Alex Caputo-Pearl, a Crenshaw teacher and member of the United Teachers of Los Angeles West Area Board of Directors
The forum will include a discussion of a student survey on the magnet transformation of Crenshaw and provide a youth perspective on what has happened at the school this year and what is on deck for the coming school year.

The young people will also talk about the school's Extended Learning Cultural Model, which activists say has produced positive test scores and other improved student results in 2011-12, but is expected to be discontinued in the transformation process.

Among the other concerns that are expected to be addressed at the forum is:
* An allegation that Latino parents and community members were "completely excluded" from the teacher re-interview process panels, even though the student body is 35 percent Latino.

* Many families are concerned about special education students having access and equity in the school next year because eight of the nine classroom special education teachers will not be returning to the school for the 2013-14 school year. This occurred, said activists, despite the fact that the special education department had produced a 92-point Academic Performance Index improvement in the 2011-12 school year. This outpaced all other high schools in South Los Angeles except one.

* Finally, many key student programs, including the national award-winning Debate Team, will lose their teacher sponsors, because they were among those not selected back.