It’s been over a decade since the state took control of the Inglewood Unified School District, after years of mismanagement depleted its funds and threatened its existence. It would seem that after such a long time, local control would have been returned. But a variety of the district’s practices, and ongoing issues, are preventing it from moving forward.
Unlike other districts, IUSD schools accept all students. They enroll transfers, grant permits, and take students who have been expelled from other educational institutions, from any area. When these young people – who are often not from the close-knit Inglewood community – arrive, they often start fights at school or cause other disruptions that ripple out to the entire student body. IUSD schools, not wanting to report suspensions to the state and look bad, instead send a child home for weeks on “independent study” – a short-term solution that does nothing to correct dysfunctional behaviors.
Long before the state takeover, IUSD focused most of its attention and resources on its elementary schools and neglected its middle and high schools. This has had harsh long-term consequences.
The majority of students in the district’s two high schools, in particular, are quite far behind in most subjects, which was true even before the pandemic. In some cases, students are reading at grade school levels. Like other districts, IUSD is chronically under-staffed with teachers to provide the in-depth instruction students need to catch up.
Student behavior is also a serious problem. The widely-popular Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system is embraced by the district, but it hasn’t been rolled out completely at any school. The lack of a true disciplinary system at any of IUSD’s schools is particularly problematic at the middle and high school levels, where truancy, drug use, and excessive cell phone usage rage, unchecked.
Last month at Morningside High School, a student was taken to the hospital after a reported fentanyl overdose. Over the last three weeks at Inglewood High School, students have been tagging buildings with the moniker of a prevalent local gang.
Warren Lane Elementary was closed permanently this year, and now others are possibly on the chopping block.
If LACOE, which has run IUSD under the leadership of a number of different superintendents, doesn’t step up and address the student issues at its remaining schools, the district may indeed eventually fade away entirely.
Jacy Hanes is a freelance journalist for 2UrbanGirls.com.