Teaching position in jeopardy as LAUSD rejects school’s enrollment numbers


Rudraj Koppikar

Enrollment has been stagnating since the 2016-17 school year

Rudraj Koppikar and Julissa Rangel

A teaching position in the English department risks closure as the district has rejected the reported enrollment of 340 students, citing absence of a single student as a reason.

“I got a call on Sept. 18 from the district’s Human Resources department that they were not acknowledging our 340 as one student has been serially absent including on Norm Day,” Principal Deb Smith said. “ I wrote an appeal to Superintendent Nacorda next door and to the H.R. department.”

Enrollment was reported to be 340 students, exactly at the norm limit needed for the district to pay for a teaching position. The student in question had not been in attendance for over 10 days and Smith was unaware that a serially absent student would not be counted towards the enrollment of the school.

Smith stated that the school would have to either pay for a new teacher out of pocket, essentially draining the school’s general budget, or completely scramble students’ schedules if the appeal is rejected. Journalism Adviser Adriana Chavira may also be asked to pick up an English class and have several of her Journalism 1 classes combined.

“If they don’t approve the appeal, with some help from next door, superintendent Nacorda, we could use all of our remaining budget in an existing general account and pay out of our own account to hold a teacher,” Smith said. “ That means that there’s really no funding that would give us a little bit of a cushion, for example it allows us to maybe do more field trips or purchase some additional iPads or laptops or substitutes.”

However, another student may save the school. A student who joined on Sept. 14, Norm Day, was not scheduled to begin classes at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School until the following week. Smith has stated that she is in contact with that student’s old principal in order to resolve the confusion. Since that student was not supposed to start that day, he was not in the school’s attendance rolls. Smith is hoping that the district will concede and count that student in the enrollment, thereby keeping the reported enrollment steady at 340.

The school is hopeful and is currently interviewing prospective teachers to fill the English position at risk. The position was staffed by Magnet Coordinator Leah Pevar last year and is currently being filled by a substitute. Smith has also stated that schedules will not be changed unless as a last resort and that English classes will not be blended under any circumstances.