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McKenna Offered Top Inglewood School Post

George McKenna, the Los Angeles principal whose tough-but-compassionate approach to inner-city education inspired a movie and recognition from President Reagan, has been offered the job of superintendent of the Inglewood Unified School District.

Inglewood school board members announced Monday night that they had selected McKenna, 47, from among nine finalists. McKenna, principal of Washington Preparatory High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District, was an early favorite for the post.

The Inglewood district, whose enrollment of about 15,000 is predominantly black and Latino, began the search for a new superintendent in July when Rex Fortune resigned after five years in the post.

Inglewood leaders said McKenna is a charismatic educator who can turn around the Inglewood system, which has been torn by political infighting and a financial crisis that required more than $3 million in budget cuts this year.

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As principal at Washington for 10 years, McKenna was credited with turning a South Los Angeles school afflicted by violence, a high dropout rate and low expectations into a college preparatory school stressing hard work and parental involvement.

McKenna’s experiences were the subject of the 1986 television movie “The George McKenna Story.” President Reagan has mentioned him as a hero of public education in several speeches.

McKenna went on indefinite leave from Washington last week.


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