Community Review: Inside the Morningside High School Students Protest

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.” -Frederick Douglass

The students at Morningside High School showed us that this statement made years ago still rings true. Little did most of us know, they’ve paid close attention to what’s happened since the state took over IUSD. In another move that undoes some of the few good things we have left going on in Inglewood Unified School District, the state interim superintendent decided that it was time to cut 15 of the current administrators at our schools, including 3 of the administrators at Morningside High. The Morningside students decided they were not going to sit idly by while the foundation of the Morningside family was being dismantled. The students demanded for the last 2 days that the administrators at their school, including their principal Dr. Sirls, remain in their positions.

Yesterday, the entire student body staged a sit-in at Morningside High School to protest the removal of Dr. Reggie Sirls as principal.  The sit-in was peaceful and happened without incident. This morning before school started, they conducted a protest outside of the school in front of the press and even began to march peacefully to the district office before being stopped by 7 Inglewood police cars, 3 Inglewood school police cars, and 5 CHP. They stopped the march, but when the students came back to campus they found that all their work awarded them an audience from the state administrators from the Inglewood district office. Of course, Ms. Kirk-Carter did not address them personally because that was too much like right. She sent Asst. Superintendent Ofelia Ceja-Lariviere and Douglas Howard to meet with all the students at the school auditorium in her stead. After Dr. Sirls gave the students praise for their focus and drive to demonstrate on the behalf of he and his co-workers, Mrs. Ceja-Lariviere spoke to the students and gave them the news they wanted to hear. The power conceded. The state administrators heard their demands and decided to keep Dr. Sirls in his position. This was a major win for the students.

Maybe the rest of us Inglewoodians should take note of what the students were teaching us in the last few days. In my humble opinion, the student’s small but important victory shows that parents, students, and community members, NEED to get all the way engaged and even come together. When we finally do this, we can bring forth the change we want to see. We’ve let others make decision for us over the years and run our beautiful district into the ground. We now have a new body who took what used to be a $6 million deficit and turned it into a $17.5 million deficit and burned through half of the $55 million loan from SB533 in 7 months, clearly making the district worse than it was before they got here. There was even talk from Ms. Kirk-Carter herself of the possibility of bankruptcy and the district being “vaporized” with the trajectory we are on now. We have someone in charge, who has no background in education administration, making money decisions that may look good on a spreadsheet but negatively impact real people’s live, real students lives, OUR LIVES.

There was an impromptu parent meeting after the protest today where Mrs. Ceja-Larviere and Mr. Howard worked diligently to appease parent concerns but had no answer for one of the parents when he asked about the money and qualifications of the state representatives. Mrs. Ceja-Larviere said that $6 million deficit that was posted before the state came in wasn’t the true number because money was being hidden that FCMAT found when they did the audits and the true deficit was more like $25 million. When the parent asked, “Wasn’t FCMAT working with LACOE and IUSD on the budget before the state came,” she replied, “Yes, but their findings were placed to the side.” He was so nice about it. I had so many questions after that exchange, but of course they quickly moved on and didn’t call on me. When asked about the qualifications of the interim state administrator, Mr. Howard said in his reply, “When a plane is falling from the sky because we lost the pilot, I’d like to have someone in the cockpit that is good at listening to those who can help her navigate,” noting that Ms. Kirk-Carter has Mrs. Ceja-Larviere and himself as her educational navigators. Well, I’d like someone in the cockpit who actually knows how to fly the plane, not some ambitious businessperson who stayed at a Holiday Inn last night and thinks they can fly. A parent even asked if we could get it in writing that Dr. Sirls was able to keep his job. They sidestepped that question as well as not committing to Ms. Rushing keeping her job.

Look, I know many of us have our differences. I know we all have our thoughts as to how we got to this point. We all agree that we definitely DO NOT want the last board to have their jobs back. However, I also believe that we don’t like where this district is headed. The students had the same hurdles, but they came together and they created change. REAL CHANGE. So I ask you, are we not just as capable as them?

Here’s the bottom line. They are not expecting us to come together, just like they didn’t expect the Morningside students to come together and demand all the change they wanted to see. I say, let’s show them that this is our city, our school district, and we DEMAND things to be improved for our children immediately.

#GetEngaged #SaveIUSD

Best regards,


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About Melissa

I am a lifelong Inglewood resident living in District 4. I serve on PTA and School Site Council as Vice-President, for the last 8 years with Inglewood Unified School District. I volunteer on the Wellness Committee for ICEF Public Schools. I am an alumni of California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in Political Science. You can find me on Twitter under @CreoleMommie

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