The Los Angeles Board of Education voted this week to open a musical academy for 700 students at Hamilton High School and to relocate two other nearby magnet school programs under a plan to improve the racial balance in the Hamilton area and relieve overcrowding elsewhere.
The Hamilton High School district, in the integrated Beverlywood and Pico Robertson communities, was chosen as the site for the new magnets because schools in that area have low neighborhood enrollments and efforts to maintain their ethnic balance have not been successful.
The board’s decision on Monday to establish the music academy met no opposition, but its vote to move two other magnets--the Open School in the Beverly-Fairfax area and the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies in the Mid-Wilshire area--was opposed by parents from two schools affected by the change.
“I think it is outrageous. The point is that the Open School is a program that is so successful. . . . We should have our own campus,” said Jill Barad, a parent who helped found the Open School.
As a result of the decision, the district will:
Vacate the Louis Pasteur Junior High School campus at 5931 W. 18th St. Pasteur’s 700 students are to be given special consideration for admission to magnets. Those who do not attend magnets will be bused to Emerson, Revere, Webster and Palms junior high schools.
Move the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, which has grades 4 through 12, from 3330 Pico Blvd. to the vacated Pasteur campus. The primary benefit of the move will be to relieve overcrowding in the Mid-Wilshire area.
Move the Open School from the Rosewood Avenue Elementary School campus at 575 Croft Ave. to Crescent Heights Elementary School at 1661 Crescent Heights Blvd. Rosewood will accept 240 students from overcrowded schools. School officials said the Open School on the Crescent Heights campus will help improve Crescent Heights’ racial balance.
Most of the opposition to the proposal was voiced by parents from the Open School and Pasteur Junior High School. Parents from the Open School wanted the district to provide their children with a separate school. Pasteur parents argued to keep their school.
George Woods, a Pasteur teacher, said the move to vacate his school would pose an “unnecessary hardship on the students and their parents.” He said the school has managed in recent years to reverse its declining enrollment and that test scores have been improving.
Colin Lennard, the parent of a student at the Open School, urged the board to “preserve the integrity of the Open School program by giving the school its own independent” campus.
Parents from the Open School said they wanted assurances that the move would not result in an end to its program, which offers a special curriculum of individual instruction that allows each child to advance at his or her own pace.
On the other side, parents representing Crescent Heights welcomed the board’s decision, saying that the two programs could coexist.
Years ago, Crescent Heights was combined with nearby Canfield Elementary School as part of a pioneer integration program. The Canfield campus, where students attend from kindergarten through the third grade, is in the predominantly white area of Beverlywood. The Crescent Heights campus, where students complete the fourth through sixth grades, is less than a mile away from Canfield in a largely black community.
Michael Russell, president of the Canfield advisory council, said that in recent years the Canfield-Crescent Heights program has been a “source of frustration because, despite the excellent program, many neighborhood (white) parents feel uncomfortable sending their children to the Crescent Heights campus. The ultimate result is that the student body is less well-balanced than the neighborhood suggests that it should be.
“We recognize that the Open School is indeed a jewel with no problem attracting students from every racial and economic background,” he said. “We are so impressed with the Open School that we feel that their mere presence will result in more neighborhood parents feeling comfortable about sending their children to Crescent Heights.”
School board President Rita Walters said there are two compelling reasons to make the changes: integration and providing classroom space.
By moving the Center for Enriched Studies to the Pasteur campus, she said, the district would be able to expand without having to condemn homes to build new schools. She also said the Open School would be just as successful on the Crescent Heights campus as it is now on the campus of Rosewood Elementary School.
Board members John R. Greenwood, Alan Gershman and Roberta L. Weintraub voted against the movement of the Open School to the Crescent Heights campus, but they were outvoted by Walters, Tom Bartman, Jackie Goldberg and Larry M. Gonzalez. The vote to establish a music academy and to close Pasteur was unanimous.