A few months after I took office, I started this program with former Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines. The idea was simple. L.A. Unified needed to look for the students who had left school or who were chronically absent, find them, offer services and get them back into school. From the seventeen years I spent at Marshall Senior High School, I knew that when students knew that they were important enough that you showed up at their door, they would almost always come back to school.
Mr. Cortines and I worked with Marquis Jones, Erika Torres and Debra Duardo that first year at Fremont Senior High School. Mr. Cortines went to the first home and encountered 'Knuckles' the pit bull who almost knocked him flat. After calming down Knuckles, Mr. Cortines convinced a young man who dropped out of school to help save his mother's store when she got sick, to come back to school. At about the same time, Dr. Duardo (now the L.A. County Office of Education Superintendent) and I were coaxing a 15-year-old girl struggling with meth addiction to get the help she needed. These were the first two students recovered as part of this program.
Seven years later, almost 5,000 students have returned to school thanks to the L.A. Unified Student Recovery Day efforts. More than 3,000 diplomas have been issued to these students. Over 10,000 homes have been visited by L.A. Unified employees and community volunteers. Our pupil services counselors who already do amazing work, do double and triple time to make sure students are successful once they return. There are now Student Recovery Day programs throughout L.A. County, in Phoenix, Arizona and throughout the nation. Thank you to everyone who has been part of this amazing effort over the past seven years.
Today I will be joined by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, L.A. Unified Superintendent Michelle King and my colleagues, Board Vice President Dr. George J. McKenna, III, and Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson at West Adams Prep High School for Student Recovery Day. We will hear from Patsy, Chad, Glenda, Randy and Angela who will share their amazing stories of academic and personal recovery spreading the message that anything and everything is possible for all students. From there we will be spending the day in the community trying to reach as many students and families as we possibly can.
Our message on the door step is simple: We miss you. We want to know why you left school and we want to help you come back. You are important to us and we are not complete without you.
If you know any student who is out of school, chronically absent or in crisis, please contact our Pupil Services Team at 213.241.3844.
Contact: Claudia Vizcarra Barton (213) 241-6387