By: Emilie St. John
Inglewood Unified administrators shut down the March 15 school board meeting after community members showed up to protest the planned closure of a local elementary school.
Students and parents from Worthington Elementary School attended the meeting with signs saying “save our schools”.
Newly appointed County Administrator Dr. James Morris scheduled a series of school closure meetings with the public who are demanding the school remains open. Ultimately the closure was approved.
Dr. Morris has been unavailable for comment on why he chose to close it.
Worthington Elementary School is located at 11101 S. Yukon Ave. which is less than two miles from the Intuit Dome, the new home of the Los Angeles Clippers and SoFi Stadium.
Worthington is located in a tight-knit community of Inglewood and houses a Dual-Immersion Program and Special Day classes for Special Education Students.
The Inglewood Unified School District’s School Closure Committee voted to keep the school open.
Parent Victoria Preciado and community leader Fredrisha Dixon with the Inglewood Coalition for Educational Equity, organized the sit-in for the students with 50 participating during the scheduled school board meeting.
“We asked Dr. Morris what his plan is to recruit students due to enrollment issues and he said he doesn’t have one until he fixes the schools,” said Preciado.
Morris is earning approximately $300,000 annually and is alleged to have the sole authority in closing the school with five more slated to follow.
One student began speaking saying “be good people and save our schools…we need our schools…” and began to cry. That’s when members of the board began to gather their things and walk out.
“Where are you going Ms. Randall and what does your walking out mean to the community,” said Dixon.
Ms. Dixon spoke at length of her concerns with how the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) is handling he district since being given control under education trailer bill AB 1840 in 2018. The bill provides financial relief to Inglewood Unified and Oakland Unified to help pay back their state loans and reduce their budget deficits included a provision that shifted control of school districts with state loans from CDE to its local county office of education.
AB 1840 provides a financial incentive for consolidation of schools in the amount of $10 million.
“LACOE has failed miserably at its job to improve IUSD. Under their leadership student enrollment and test scores continue to decline drastically and all of our schools are either dilapidated or in need of modernization,” said Dixon. “LACOE has failed to provide our students with the basics, such as books, Wi-Fi, and sometimes even water. Because of LACOE’s mismanagement of our District, parents are pulling their kids out of IUSD schools completely.”
She says it’s important to fight against school closures because if the community doesn’t, LACOE will continue to ignore the voices of Inglewood residents and taxpayers who have pledged close to $500 million in school bonds over the last decade.
“We are paying a County Administrator, James Morris, $300,000 a year to ignore the will of the community, ignore the School Closure Committee’s recommendation to keep Worthington Elementary open,” said Dixon.
The district received close to $85 million in federal COVID relief funds and continues to ignore releasing documents related to how those funds were spent under multiple California Public Records Act requests.
Last year, the district under the leadership of Dr. Erika Torres closed Warren Lane Elementary School despite protests by the community, including now Inglewood Assemblymember Tina McKinnor.
“I want them to follow the process,” said McKinnor, during the May 8, 2022 rally to save Warren Lane.
Inglewood Unified is discussing more school closures in the coming year.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist for 2UrbanGirls.com, the South Bay Examiner, and contributing writer for the Los Angeles Wave newspaper.
This is the quote I made in full: “We are paying a County Administrator, James Morris, $300,000 a year to ignore the will of the community, ignore the School Closure Committee’s recommendation to keep Worthington Elementary open, and slap our elected School Board Members in the face by refusing me follow their advice.”
If the board is only advisory is he legally required to take their recommendations?
The board is advisory only. The board can make recommendations but the County Administrator does not have to take their “advice”. The board cannot fire the CA either. Although they wish they could, due to receivership, their voices are heard but not amplified. Many community members do not understand the legalities behind “receivership”. The board is the County Administrator, not the five elected officials. They can only give advice or recommendations. I suggest people research the Board of Education during state or local receivership.
I understand that they have no say in the CA’s decisions and the process gives the appearance that community input is welcome when in actuality it isn’t. They’re just fulfilling a requirement that says the CA followed the process.