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Santa Ana : School Survey Finds Safety, Racial Concerns

October 18, 1994|JON NALICK

An informal survey by the Santa Ana Unified School District shows that the most commonly cited reasons for transferring intermediate and high school students to other districts are safety problems and racial disparity.

The results of a 10-question survey that was distributed this year to 400 families whose children left the district between the intermediate and high school levels were released last week.

Of the 86 parents and students who responded, 16.6% cited gangs and safety issues as reasons for leaving the district. Also, 9.9% cited ethnic disparity and 9.7% cited poor school image as reasons for enrolling elsewhere.

Other reasons for leaving included better academic programs elsewhere, cited by 8.8% of the respondents, class size, cited by 8.6%, and better social environment, cited by 6.1%.

The Santa Ana Unified School District is about 87% Latino, 6% Asian and 5% white.

Further, the survey shows that 57% of the students transferring out of the district came from the Saddleback High School area and 27.9% came from the Santa Ana High School area.

District officials suggested that the students who left might have stayed if local high schools' accomplishments were better publicized and if parents received more information about the quality of education Santa Ana schools provide.

"We really need to be responsive to our image, because it affects the entire community, and if there are misperceptions, we need to correct them," said Trustee Audrey Yamagata-Noji, who requested the survey.

A district committee made up of parents and school officials analyzed the results and suggested changes to address the concerns of survey respondents.

The committee recommended that the district launch a public awareness campaign featuring student accomplishments and explore the possibility of creating a fundamental high school, which would combine traditional instructional programs with strict dress and behavior rules and strong parental involvement.

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