Parents fear closure of 117-year-old South LA school, though LAUSD says there are no such plans

Parents say a letter caused them to believe Trinity Elementary School may close, but an LAUSD official said that is not the case.
SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Community members fear Trinity Elementary School in South L.A., which has been around for nearly 120 years, may be shut down.

An LAUSD official told ABC7 there are no plans to close Trinity, but parents say they received a letter in June causing them to believe the school, which has been in their community for 117 years, may be facing closure.

The letter from Superintendent Frances Baez read in part:

"I have come to the difficult but necessary conclusion that continuing to operate Trinity at current enrollment levels will not allow us to offer the quality services, supports, and resources that our students and staff deserve. We simply cannot operate a freestanding school at that site with the enrollment we have."

"A lot of people have been here, and it belongs to the community," said Francisco Pastor, a parent of a student at Trinity. "There's just no reason for them to close it if it's been a great school for all these years."

Sonia Perez said her two children attended Trinity, and she's also been a teacher at the school for over 20 years. She said the school district wants to make more room for Gabriella Charter School 2, which currently shares the same location with Trinity.

"The parents are not happy about displacing their students to other schools," said Perez. "And they want to keep the school and the community and the family that we built together."

Trinity is not the only LAUSD school with declining enrollment. State data shows the district has been registering fewer students for years.

An annual count by LAUSD shows about 439,000 students enrolled this year in pre-k through 12th grade, which is 6% less than last year. Charter schools are publicly funded schools but are independently operated. Some say they are innovative while others are concerned they may stray from public school curriculum too much.

"The reason that we need to keep fighting to keep Trinity open is because we need to show everyone outside of this community that we care about what happens in our community," said Diana Valbuena, a current USC college student and Trinity alum.

An LAUSD spokesperson shared the below statement with ABC7, confirming that the district does not have plans to close Trinity. The statement did point out, however, that Gabriella Charter School 2 has requested additional space due to increasing enrollment, and that the district is looking for a solution to meet that request.

"Trinity Street Elementary School located in the heart of South Los Angeles has a rich community steeped with a 117-year-old history.

Steadily since 2016-2017 school year, due in part to the co-location of Gabriella Charter School 2, Trinity's enrollment has decreased while Gabriella's enrollment has increased.

Earlier this year, Gabriella requested allocations of additional space at Trinity for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years pursuant to Proposition 39. Proposition 39 is a state law that requires school districts to make facilities available to public charter schools serving students who reside in the District. The issue is not the closing of the campus, but a response to Gabriella's facilities requests. Gabriella continues to grow and has demonstrated a need for additional space.

Since this past summer we have been reaching out to the school community in the hopes of a mutual and swift resolution that was triggered by the requests for additional space.

At this time, there are no plans to close the school. Trinity will remain a Los Angeles Unified facility, offering unique services to the community, and Gabriella will be co-located at this site through at least the 2022-23 school year."

"I came from a public school, I became a teacher, and I believe in public education," Perez said "And my kids went to public schools and I believe in that and you know, we need to continue public education."


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