LAUSD Board Members Look to Maintain School Options for Students

LOS ANGELES (Sept.11, 2012)– The Board of Education today directed Superintendent John Deasy to create a plan that better identifies teenage students, who are often absent or struggle academically at traditional high schools, as candidates for campuses with smaller classes that offer more individual assistance from teachers.

These so-called continuation high schools, in the Los Angeles Unified School District, play a key role in the educational food chain. Pupils, who because of illness, past mistakes or family situations need to make-up extra credit to graduate, can do so. These campuses also can accommodate gifted students who might need more flexibility to work at their own pace.

The board voted 6 to 1 for the measure, requiring Superintendent Deasy to report back in 90 days.

“Our continuation schools are the safety net that keeps kids off the street and in school,” said Board Member Tamar Galatzan, who co-sponsored a board resolution. “It is vital that the District continue to support and expand programs with proven track records. All too often, something as simple as a chain link fence keeps a good school from growing. This resolution seeks to eliminate the bureaucratic red tape that currently riddles the process of expanding a school.”

Board Member Steve Zimmer said that students—almost 11,000 of whom attend continuation schools—often find these campuses a better match, prompting them to work harder. “Traditional schools are not for everyone,” said Board Member Zimmer, who co-sponsored the resolution. “The more and better options we create, the more diplomas we get to hand out in June.”

Graduating more students aids the District’s bottom-line, as well as other school districts in California, which have been slashed in state funding for education. A student who misses on average two days of school per week squanders not only their education, but the District also loses out about $2,100 during the school year. But if the student stays enrolled in a continuation school, the District receives the full financial benefit, and the pupil’s education also grows. Board Member Zimmer said it’s never too late for these kids to receive their education.

“We should never give up on a single student,” he said.

Board Member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, saying the board needs to better realize students’ needs and why they are referred to such schools, voted against the resolution.

Contact: Thomas Waldman (213) 241-6766