Nancy M. Nuesseler, president of the 200-member Centinela Valley Secondary Teachers Assn., said she too is skeptical of the dropout figures because she believes the programs aimed at reducing the dropout rate have not had enough time to take effect.
"I really don't know what the programs are accomplishing," she said. "We are not given any feedback from the district."
Sheila Steachowiak, president of the Centinela Valley Council PTA, said she is happy to hear about the reduced dropout rates but is concerned that the district is not paying enough attention to college-bound and special education students.
"There are lots of needs out there for the kids that I feel haven't been met," she said. Steachowiak has a son who graduated from Hawthorne High School last year and now attends El Camino College and another who graduated three years ago from the district's special education program.
Nash said the district's efforts to reduce the number of dropouts have not been at the expense of college-bound students. He said the district has many successful programs aimed at getting students into college and added that he has been criticized by some teachers for putting too great an emphasis on college preparation.
Ken Crowe, principal of Hawthorne High School, said he is not surprised by the lower dropout rates, because he believes the dropout figures the district has been using in the past were not accurate.
He said the new computer system is providing the district information about dropouts that is "much more accurate and realistic."
Crowe said he is confident the dropout rate will continue to decrease with the help of other programs the district has implemented, such as the Truancy Abatement Program. Under this program, Hawthorne police officers pick up truant students they encounter during routine patrols and return them to the school.
TRACKING HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT RATES The Centinela Valley Union High School District released these figures showing a decrease in the district's dropout rate in the past two school years. HAWTHORNE HIGH SCHOOL 1987-1988
Grade Enrollment Dropouts 10 825 144 11 659 97 12 581 61 Total 2,065 302 Dropout rate 14.6%
HAWTHORNE HIGH SCHOOL 1988-1989
Grade Enrollment Dropouts 10 806 73 11 822 21 12 439 91 Total 2,067 185 Dropout rate 8.9%
LEUZINGER HIGH SCHOOL 1987-1988
Grade Enrollment Dropouts 10 870 67 11 577 82 12 515 77 Total 1,962 226 Dropout rate 11.5%
LEUZINGER HIGH SCHOOL 1988-1989
Grade Enrollment Dropouts 10 841 44 11 886 61 12 424 19 Total 2,151 124 Dropout rate 5.7%