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District Urged to Study Ethnic Ratio Revisions

January 12, 1988|PAMELA MORELAND | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Unified School District staff proposed Monday that the district study whether ethnic ratios should be altered at 15 more schools and in 22 magnet programs in the San Fernando Valley to allow larger numbers of minority students.

Court-approved guidelines have established a ratio of 60% minority to 40% white at most district schools. However, 76 schools--53 of them in the Valley--already have been switched to a ratio of 70% minority-30% white.

If the Board of Education approves the proposal, district staff will survey the school communities to see if they believe their schools would become racially segregated with a ratio of 70%-30%.

The board is expected to consider the proposal at its Jan. 25 meeting.

By increasing the minority ratio, officials said, the district can bring in more minority students--primarily Latino and Asian--from crowded schools in the district.

The study would be the latest in a series of such reviews by the district of campus ethnic ratios.

An Emotional Issue

Changing ethnic ratios in schools is always an emotional issue. Some board members believe that, in a district with an 82% minority enrollment, the 60%-40% ratio is unrealistic. But other members argue that the board could be accused of intentionally creating segregated schools if it approves raising the minority population of more schools to 70%.

And some white parents say the ratio changes reduce their children's chances of admission to popular magnet programs. If minority enrollment is increased in a magnet program, white enrollment must decrease.

Magnet programs, established in the 1970s as an integration tool, attract students from all parts of the district to schools that offer special academic programs and teaching methods. A child's ethnicity is one of the criteria used by the district to determine admittance.

The district began its ratio-adjustment program three years ago. There have been no court challenges to the 70%-30% policy, and district officials believe the policy would survive a legal test.

According to guidelines based on the landmark California desegregation case, McKinney vs. Oxnard School District, minority enrollments can be increased to 70% at schools that have never had minority enrollments that high only if their communities do not believe the schools would become segregated.

To assess community sentiment, the district must survey local community groups, parents and school staff.

It also must analyze the racial and ethnic composition of the neighborhood youngsters who attend each school. It must review the racial makeup of the school's faculty and the racial composition of students participating in athletics and other extracurricular activities.

In addition, parents of students on magnet waiting lists must be questioned on their perceptions of the integrated status of magnet programs. There are about 10,000 students on such waiting lists.

TARGETS OF PROPOSED CHANGES

Schools Andasol Avenue Elementary, Northridge; Bertrand Avenue Elementary, Reseda; Blythe Street Elementary, Reseda; Burbank Boulevard Elementary, North Hollywood; Canoga Park High; Harding Street Elementary, Sylmar; Lassen Elementary, Sepulveda; Limerick Avenue Elementary, Canoga Park.

Plainview Avenue Elementary, Tujunga; Reseda Elementary; Rio Vista Avenue Elementary, North Hollywood; Stonehurst Avenue Elementary, Sun Valley; Tarzana Elementary; Toluca Lake Elementary, North Hollywood; and Reed Junior High, North Hollywood.

Magnet Programs Balboa Boulevard Elementary Gifted, Northridge; Byrd Junior High Fundamental, Sun Valley; Canterbury Elementary Gifted, Pacoima; Cleveland High Humanities, Reseda; Kester Elementary Gifted and High Achieving Center, Van Nuys; Lorne Elementary, Northridge; Monlux Elementary Fundamental, North Hollywood; Nobel Junior High, Northridge; North Hollywood Animal Studies High School; Pacoima Junior High Computer and Math Center; Pacoima Junior High Fine Arts Center; Porter Junior High Highly Gifted Center, Granada Hills; Portola Junior High Gifted, Tarzana.

San Jose Elementary Highly Gifted, Mission Hills; Sepulveda Junior High Gifted and High Achieving Center; Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies; Valley Alternative, Van Nuys; Van Nuys High Math/Science; Van Nuys High Performing Arts; Vena Avenue Elementary Gifted and High Achieving Center, Pacoima; Vintage Fundamental Elementary School, Sepulveda; and Welby Way Elementary Gifted and High Achieving Center, Canoga Park.

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