Valeria Luquin

Over the course of the past five years, enrollment at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School has steadily decreased. However, there was a huge drop in enrollment during distance learning in the 2020-2021 school year. As seen in the graph, the number of students who registered for enrollment at the beginning of the school year remained about the same at the end of the year.

DPMHS enrollment continues to decline

After more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollment in both LAUSD and DPMHS has hit a long-time low, affecting funding and teacher placement.

June 2, 2022

Compared to her freshman year, senior Jamie Ortiz has noticed some of the excitement and novelty fade from Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) as enrollment has declined.

“It just became more boring because a lot of people haven’t been choosing the school,” Ortiz said. “It’s less social because you just keep seeing the same people.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, DPMHS saw a steep drop in enrollment. The school population currently sits at 220 students, as opposed to an enrollment of 356 students five years ago, according to school records. Despite the downward enrollment trend, the incoming freshman class for the 2022-23 school year is slated to be made up of 52 students, remaining relatively steady with this year’s 54 freshmen, according to Principal Armen Petrossian. 

Dropping enrollment is not just an issue at DPMHS but is a widespread problem throughout Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). LAUSD’s total enrollment is expected to fall below 400,000 students, compared to over 737,000 students two decades ago, according to a March 9 article published by LAist. 

The DPMHS administration has been attempting to attract prospective students to the school by sharing recruitment posts on social media, hosting virtual meet-the-magnet nights and presenting at middle school open houses via Zoom. 

“We’ve gone to every single possible recruitment opportunity we had,” Petrossian said. 

DPMHS has also been hosting in-person school tours led by students in Associated Student Body (ASB) and leadership. These tours had previously been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing many families from experiencing the school environment firsthand.

“I think tours give (prospective students) more of a reason to come here,” ASB Secretary Diego Hernandez said. “They make them feel more welcome.”

With lower enrollment comes fewer teachers, fewer course offerings and scarcer funding, which have affected how some students feel about the school. Many seniors, including Vivian Reyes, are frustrated by the lack of funding for senior activities, other extracurricular and elective activities. 

While widespread low enrollment concerns persist among DPMHS staff and students, enrollment is likely to stay about the same during the 2022-23 school year, according to Petrossian.

“The enrollment hasn’t affected me much,” Reyes said. “But I feel like I missed out a bit on a high school experience.”

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