L.A. Unified skips school input, and its own procedures, in naming arts high

The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously overrode its own procedures as well as objections from some parents and teachers to name its downtown arts high school after Ramon C. Cortines, who retired as the district’s superintendent in April.

Although Cortines was universally praised, school representatives asked that L.A. Unified follow its own process, which was updated in January 2010, when Cortines was superintendent. That process requires participation by students, faculty, staff and parents as well as a survey.

Early on, the district had discussed selling naming rights to the striking, $232-million L.A. Central High School No. 9. The Grand Avenue campus’ programs and maintenance have required a substantial subsidy.

The school’s principal “did solicit names for a naming committee, but it has never convened,” said Julie McManus, a visual arts teacher and union representative.


At Tuesday’s meeting, objections were raised by leaders of the parents group and the school’s governing council.

Board President Monica Garcia acknowledged concerns and the district’s agreement to give the school control over key decisions. But, citing Cortines’ singular career, she said, “On this one I will beg to differ because it is so appropriate.”

Previously, officials had deviated from the governing agreement by mandating the removal of the school’s first two principals — in only two years of operation.

Cortines, who did not attend the meeting, said he was deeply honored.

In other actions, the board rescinded layoff notices to 3,433 teachers, counselors and others as well as more than 1,600 layoffs for bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other staff in the wake of labor concessions.