The New Crisis at Roosevelt High School: A Call to Action


An important Town Hall meeting to discuss the present and future of Roosevelt High School will take place Aug. 5 at the

Salesian Boys and Girls Club.

The meeting will focus on finding solutions to save the struggling school. Roosevelt students, teachers, parents, alumni, and activists are urged to attend and participate in this important event. The future of Roosevelt is at stake as it may lose its accreditation.

Since Dec. 7, 2007, Roosevelt has been under the control of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS). PLAS promised stakeholders that it would work  “collaboratively” to increase student achievement— both of these PLAS promises have never occurred.

PLAS is under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the LAUSD, which gives PLAS the authority to manage Roosevelt. However, Roosevelt High School is represented by LAUSD Board Member Monica Garcia, who represents District 2.

Monica has met with me and other community activists and stakeholders in the past but has refused to terminate the MOU with PLAS. Several community actions, including a massive student on May 15 have occurred, but PLAS outsiders continue to mismanage Roosevelt.

Nearly 8-years have gone by under PLAS control and Roosevelt has not shown any substantial academic growth in its API (Academic Performance Index) or in its STAR tests results, or newer CAASPP scores, where RHS students are tested every year in various academic subjects. Although there have been minor increases and decreases in scores, Roosevelt’s API scores under PLAS throughout the years have ranged from the 520 to 672, not counting the magnet school.

It is important to note that an API score of 600 or below qualifies a school as a “Focus School,” which means it can be reconstituted, taken over by a charter operator, or by a group of teachers. STAR scores range from 200 to 1,000, with 800 being the statewide performance target. Also, under PLAS control, Roosevelt students in general are only about 20 percent proficient or advanced in English language arts and only about 3 percent in math.

With the new State Common Core Standards taking effect, it would not be surprising for Roosevelt students to continue to score low since the new state standards in English language arts will be more demanding and require greater English language development and stronger critical thinking and analytical skills. At the high school level, students will be expected to have a foundation in algebra and geometry.

The new crisis at Roosevelt High School was precipitated by the student walkout in May. Students walked out because 23 Roosevelt teachers were to be displaced due to a loss of special funding. Positive and productive working relationships had developed among teachers and students. The teachers that were to be displaced knew their students’ learning styles, potential, and cared for them.

Losing 23 teachers was an unprecedented event and a shock to students — especially when the state’s education budget was to be increased by $3 billion.

Despite the walkout and the increase in state funding, the 23 teachers were let go and as a result a variety of courses were eliminated.

The next adverse thing to happen to Roosevelt was the resignation of the school’s principal this summer after 5 years at the high school.

Roosevelt’s new principal must not be an outsider. The previous one was from Seattle, Washington. The new principal must know the community and have the experience and ability to reform Roosevelt High School.

The new principal must have the approval of Roosevelt parents, teachers, and parents.

To make matters worse, Roosevelt has been put on academic probation by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges, which grants accreditation to schools. According to WASC, if Roosevelt does not make substantial academic progress in two years, it will lose its accreditation.

On July 7, a group of Roosevelt students met at Boyle Heights City Hall to
express their concerns about
what has happened to Roosevelt. They were talking to a group of about 30 that included Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council members, Roosevelt alumni, teachers, representatives from the LAUSD, community activists, and nonprofit groups.

Students said Roosevelt’s identity has been destroyed under PLAS. Neighborhood students no longer want to attend the school and the student population has dropped to about 1,500 and 86 teachers.

It is a stripped–down model of a comprehensive high school that lacks dozens of Career Technical Programs (CTE) and classes such as Auto Mechanics, Culinary Arts, Child Development, Mental and Behavioral Health, and Entrepreneurship. There is no bilingual education program for its core academic subjects.

The meeting produced four major recommendations: to select a new principal who is bilingual and has a track record of successfully reforming a Latino high school; to dump PLAS; to search for a viable candidate to replace Board Member Monica Garcia in District 2, and to convene the Town Hall meeting at Salesian Boys’ and Girls’ Club on Aug. 5,

The town will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Salesian Boys and Girls Club: 2228 E. 4th St, L.A. 90033.


John Fernandez was a lead teacher at Roosevelt High School, where he taught for 24 years and was the former director of the Mexican American Education Commission for the LAUSD.

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