Letters to the Editor: There’s a ‘community schools’ initiative here in L.A., and it’s working

Garfield High
Math teacher Liliana Villalpando leads her students through a course at Garfield High School, an LAUSD “community school.”
(Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: I appreciate Rand Corp. researcher and former teacher William R. Johnston’s perspective on “community schools” in New York, but it’s important not to overlook a parallel effort underway in L.A. County schools outside the Los Angeles Unified School District.

With support and funding from the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, the L.A. County Office of Education has embarked on an unprecedented partnership with the Department of Mental Health, other county agencies and school districts.

Our Community Schools initiative involves 15 pilot campuses gearing up to become hubs for a range of social services for students and families. The approach recognizes that mental health and wellness are equally important as good instruction. It is critical that we attend to the needs of the whole child so that students can learn and teachers can teach.


We know it will take time to see the impact on test scores, graduation rates and other measures of school success. But even now, we are seeing small shifts when schools have the additional resources they need.

My priority is to promote the Community Schools model as the norm throughout our region, fueled by the incredible power of partnerships. It is a vital strategy for tackling persistent inequities and ensuring a bright future for our at-promise youth.

Debra Duardo, Downey

The writer is the Los Angeles County superintendent of schools.