The Office of Student Integration of the Los Angeles Unified School District is restructuring its criteria on who will be eligible to apply for and teach at the newly created magnet programs at Westchester Enriched Magnet Schools.
Current juniors from other schools who are new applicants will not be accepted to the magnet programs for the 2011-12 academic year, while 11th graders who are currently attending Westchester High School will be allowed to apply.
“At this time we are not accepting juniors from other schools going into 12th grade,” LAUSD Director of Student Integration Services Estelle Luckett confirmed.
Initially, only new and current 9th and 10th graders were going to be allowed to apply to the new high school. But parents who attended a meeting with Luckett’s office, which is in charge of magnet programs, raised objections to that policy.
“At the meeting, parents were told only 9th and 10th graders, but during the meeting several parents expressed a strong interest in changing the policy to include the 11th graders,” Luckett explained.
In addition, View Park will no longer be a part of the Westchester school boundary beginning in the fall.
However, students who have attended the five Westchester elementary schools and Orville Wright Middle School will be able to apply to the new magnets, which are slated to open in September, according to LAUSD officials.
The LAUSD Board of Education voted April 12 to convert the school, formerly known as Westchester High School, into a school-wide magnet. There will be three magnets comprised of sports medicine and health, environmental sciences and natural science engineering programs.
Teachers at the high school will soon learn their fates as well. Several were not retained by the district during an initial round of interviews during the last week in May but LAUSD officials are planning to hold second interviews with educators who were not asked back to teach at the new magnets.
Some teachers say they are upset with how the process of deciding who would be retained was handled. They echo what some groups of parents have complained about since the school was converted to a magnet: that much of the Westchester community was not involved in or invited to participate in the decision-making process.
Several educators who were informed that they would not be asked back have at least 10 years of teaching experience.
Teacher Fred Page said the mood among teachers is as low as he can remember during his time at the school.
“There were so many people who were upset (at a teachers meeting held May 27),” said Page, who has taught mathematics and business at the high school for 16 years.
LAUSD officials maintain that everything they have done thus far has been above board and transparent.
“(On May 27), I met with the Local District (3) regarding concerns from teachers and other stakeholders about the staffing decisions,” Westchester Enriched Magnets School Principal Robert Canosa-Carr wrote in an email.
“While the district stands by the process, which was inclusive of all stakeholder groups on the hiring panels, the district has agreed to conduct a second process giving teachers/counselors who were not selected another opportunity to interview.”
The school’s hiring committee, which voted to hire Carr last September, is a carryover from the autonomy movement that preceded the magnet conversion as an attempt to reform Westchester schools and break away from LAUSD in order to have more local control.
“Right now we’re like nomads. We’re in limbo,” Page lamented.
The deadline to apply for the new magnets is June 10.