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3 groups to take over Jordan High from LAUSD

January 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A major shakeup is in the works for one of L.A.'s most troubled high schools. David Starr Jordan Senior High School in Watts is being divided into three smaller schools that will be run by independent groups, not the Los Angeles Unified School District.LAUSD announced the restructuring of Jordan High Wednesday. Thursday, the school sent letters home to parents explaining the changes.

Thursday, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the decision was backed by 90 percent of parents and 60 percent of the school's staff.

One parent said Thursday's letter was the first she heard about the change.

There are big changes in store for Jordan High: Come fall 2011, the South L.A. campus of 1,600 students will be divided into three separate schools, each run by a different private entity.

"It is a matter of urgency," said LAUSD Regional Superintendent George McKenna. "It's been historically unacceptable for quite some time and now is the time to make a move.

McKenna is the man pegged to oversee the restructuring process, which involves having teachers, administrators and all school staff reapply for their jobs.

"When they reapply, we're going to have a list of things that we expect of them," said McKenna. "If you're willing to do it and can prove that you can do it, and show that you've had some experience doing it, you're welcome to come back. If you don't want to come back, that's fine, you'll get relocated."

According to LAUSD records, Jordan High has been underperforming for the last 13 years and the staff has been given opportunities to make improvements.

The last opportunity was in December when school administrators submitted a plan of action to the district. LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines deemed that plan to be short on ideas for implementation.

Jordan High administrators aren't commenting on the decision but some parents say they aren't pleased.

"What's going on here, that we as parents in this community knew absolutely nothing about what is going on?" said parent Helen Price.

"I'm sad. It's a good school, and people in the community are good," said Kelly Smith, a parent and an employee of the school. "I enjoyed working here. I love the kids. I think a lot of it is what you put in is what you get out."

As LAUSD prepares to revamp Jordan High, Thursday, school board leaders and superintendant-designate John Deasy applauded excellence at another LAUSD campus, Quincy Jones Elementary School, where two schools sharing one campus has proven successful.

"What's important is that Superintendent Cortines has had the courage to do the right thing," said Villaraigosa.

Jordan High School's 50 teachers and staff members will be asked to reapply in February. The process should take about a month.