Transfers OKd for Fearful Jordan Students

Times Education Writer

Imperial Courts housing project parents, worried about gang attacks on students going to and from Jordan High School in Watts, can transfer their children to schools they consider safer, under an agreement reached Thursday with Los Angeles Unified School District officials.

About 23 students who live at Imperial Courts in Watts intend to seek transfers to other schools, a parents' spokeswoman said Thursday after meeting with school board member Warren Furutani, whose district includes Watts.

Furutani said at a press conference with the parents' representatives Thursday that students who would normally attend Jordan can transfer to other district high schools and that the district will provide the transportation.

Parents Want Investigation

The parents are continuing to press for an investigation of the school by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. The American Assn. of Women, a conservative Santa Monica-based group that has been supporting the parents, prepared and filed the complaint on behalf of the Imperial Courts parents on Feb. 17.

Jean Kresy, deputy regional director of the federal Education Department's civil rights division, said Thursday that her office is still in the process of determining whether the group's allegations warrant an investigation.

At the press conference Thursday, parent Gwen Johnson, who described herself as chairwoman of an Imperial Courts chapter of the American Assn. of Women, said: "I'm very happy (about) what I hear today, that our kids will be back in school."

Johnson said she will seek a transfer permit for her 16-year-old son but declined out of concern for his safety to name which school he wants to attend. She said that her son does not want to attend Jordan High because of hassles from gang members, which included being accosted on the way home from school by a gun-toting "gangbanger" from the nearby Jordan Downs housing project.

If security at and around Jordan High improves, Johnson said, she will allow her son to return to school there.

According to Furutani, district attendance and security officials will be meeting with the parents of the approximately 100 high school-age students living at Imperial Courts to discuss their safety concerns.

Review Security Measures

He said officials also are reviewing security measures at Jordan, which is patrolled by two full-time, plainclothes district police officers and six unsworn campus security aides, and are considering heightening a fence that divides the campus from the Jordan Downs housing project.

"That is not to make (the school) a fortress," Furutani said, "but (to serve as) as restraint to people who are using (the fence) as an entrance and exit."

Parents said the majority of the 100 students who live at Imperial Courts have stayed out of school the last several months because of fear of attacks by gang members from the nearby Jordan Downs housing project.

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