California parents are protesting their local school district after overcrowding led to discussions of relocating students.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has lost 15% of its enrollment – roughly 100,000 students – since 2015-16. But Porter Ranch Community, a K-8 school in northwest Los Angeles, is having the opposite problem.
Mismanagement and overcrowded classrooms have forced LAUSD to consider drastic action, such as moving Porter Ranch’s middle school students to a nearby high school.
Local parents feel like the rug is being pulled out from under them.
“We’ve been promised this K-8,” Layla Rakei told Fox 11 News. “We’ve been here all these years, and just to all of a sudden be told that our students can no longer be here, it’s actually detrimental to everyone in many ways.”
“Parents [are] absolutely devastated,” added Shauna Isenberg.
Others expressed frustration with the district’s mismanagement of the situation.
“This feels like a poor situation that could have been avoided if there was more transparency and just community involvement from the LAUSD’s standpoint,” said parent Adi Mathur.
Upset parents and students protested outside Porter Ranch Community on Monday and the town hall meeting that night.
Fox 11 tried to attend the meeting but was prevented from entering by LAUSD officials.
“If you’re not letting media in, that tells me you’ve got something to hide,” commented parent Roma Boyer. “What are you hiding?”
At the Monday town hall, the region’s superintendent said the district is looking into adding buildings to Porter Ranch and that there are no plans to phase out middle schools, KCAL News reported.
However, a statement from the district last Friday only guaranteed “no major changes” through the 2024-25 school year.
Despite being overcrowded, Porter Ranch manages to be a bright spot in California’s otherwise dismal public education system.
Nearly 80% of its students do math at grade level, while 84% are proficient in reading.
Comparatively, students at Chatsworth Charter High School – where Porter Ranch middle schoolers could be relocated – only achieved 29% proficiency in math and 61% in reading.
According to Porter Ranch parents, one of the big attractions of their neighborhood is their school.
And even though it has reached capacity – 70 students were turned away this year – developers are still using it as a selling point.
“They’ve been selling the dream,” said Ani Shahbaz, who has two children, one elementary and one middle, at Porter Ranch Community. “Your kid can walk to this great school. This is the reason why we all moved here because we had an actual LAUSD school that starts [transitional] kindergarten through eighth grade and middle school is really difficult.”