Crenshaw High School's recently lost accreditation, the object of parental outrage and official contrition, has been restored until at least February, pending action on a Los Angeles Unified School District appeal, a group of Crenshaw parents and teachers announced Saturday.
At a news conference outside a Leimert Park coffeehouse, members of the Crenshaw Cougar Coalition revealed that the accrediting agency had acknowledged it received the appeal Wednesday. That automatically returned the school to accredited status until the agency, the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges, formally takes up the appeal at a meeting Jan. 30 and 31.
Coalition members said they learned independently of the development and held the news conference because the district had not spread word of it to parents and students. They said the return to accreditation would comfort Crenshaw seniors anxious about the loss of accreditation's effect on their admission to college, and might persuade some parents not to transfer their children to other schools.
Receipt of the appeal means "students will be held harmless regarding their education status or their desire to attend a school of higher learning," Cougar Coalition President Glenn Windom told reporters. A coalition handout expressed confidence that "all 2006 graduates will receive an accredited diploma."
The association notified the district Aug. 15 that it was revoking Crenshaw's accreditation, largely because administrators had failed to articulate a coherent plan for correcting myriad shortcomings at the southwest Los Angeles high school, one of the lowest-performing in the city. About 3,100 students are enrolled there, more than 70% of them African American.
At a raucous coalition meeting Aug. 19, an estimated 900 attendees heard L.A. Unified Supt. Roy Romer and other district officials announce plans to file an appeal. Romer promised that additional resources would be given to Crenshaw to ensure that it regained long-term accreditation when, as expected, the accrediting agency reevaluates the facility in early 2006.
After the news conference Saturday morning, the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable held a panel discussion on Crenshaw inside the cafe, the Lucy Florence Coffeehouse.
Pressed by Councilman Bernard C. Parks and members of the audience, district officials, including Board of Education member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, said that a plan for upgrading the school was being formulated and that parts of it were already taking effect.
Robert Collins, assistant superintendent for high schools, vowed that as classes begin Tuesday, students would find an updated security system to deter theft, more timely distribution of textbooks and other immediate improvements.
Local District 3 high school director Douglas Waybright invited parents to tour the school with him the first day of classes.
At the news conference, coalition members called on Crenshaw parents to resist transferring their children elsewhere.
"To run is not the answer. To be there and work with the school is the answer," said Eunice Grigsby, a Crenshaw alumna with two children enrolled at the school. "Send your student to Crenshaw High, because Crenshaw High is going to be ... the school that everybody's going to want to come to. Don't leave, because if you leave, you're losing out. You stay, you win."
Coalition member Alex Caputo-Pearl, a history teacher at Crenshaw, said the current situation was "an opportunity because, No. 1, people are organized here, and you don't see this at every school."
Moreover, he said, the additional resources -- personnel, equipment, textbooks -- promised by Romer would give Crenshaw an advantage over other South Los Angeles high schools.
Grigsby also called for successful alumni of the school, long a symbol of pride to local African Americans, to get actively involved in revitalization efforts.
"You need to come and give back, because that was the school that gave you the education to get to where you are right now," she said. "Our students need to know ... that you can make it, but they need to hear it from somebody that \o7did\f7 make it.... Come back and give back to 'The 'Shaw.' "