In Allowing Their Kindergarten Students at Canyon
The public elementary school for people who reside in the “Polo Fields” neighborhood of Pacific Palisades (west of Allenford) is Canyon Charter Elementary School, but only for grades one through five.
The parents of 12 rising kindergarten students who live in this neighborhood (between Revere and the Riviera) recently learned that Brentwood Science Magnet is their kindergarten school this fall.
Parents and Area 8 Representative Reza Akoff brought the problem to the Pacific Palisades Community Council on May 23.
“We moved to this area with the understanding that our kids would go to Canyon,” one parent told the Council.
Canyon Charter School is ranked a 10, out of 10, by state standards and the school’s API (Academic Performance Index) score is 978. By contrast, Brentwood Science Magnet, which is under-enrolled, is ranked a 6, with an API of 839.
During the 2015-16 school year, math proficiency at Brentwood was 35 percent and reading proficiency was 42 percent. Math proficiency at Canyon was 85 to 89 percent and reading was 90-94 percent in the same time period.
Once Polo Fields children finish kindergarten at Brentwood, they are considered Pacific Palisades residents and can enter Canyon for first through fifth grade.
Circling the News emailed and received a response on May 27 from Canyon Elementary Principal Nicole Sheard, who explained that it wasn’t her choice. “The area is determined by the LAUSD Demographics Department. Students who reside within the ‘option area’ boundaries are to attend Brentwood Science Magnet for kindergarten and have the option to attend Canyon Charter School for grades 1-5.
“Families in this area can choose to apply through the lottery for kindergarten,” Sheard continued. “For the kindergarten year only, they do not fall within the attendance boundaries of Canyon and are therefore considered ‘lottery’ applicants. For first through fifth grade, students in the area can enroll at Canyon as ‘residents’ rather than ‘lottery’ students.”
Although this has been the case for decades, it only surfaced this year because of the high number of students attempting to enter kindergarten.
+Why can’t those students just be admitted, and no lottery for kindergarten this year?
Sheard cited the rule, “As an existing District school that has converted to a District-affiliated charter school, a Charter School’s first priority is to admit students who reside in the attendance boundary of the school.”
In this case, according to LAUSD Demographics, kindergarten students – and only kindergarten students – are not in the boundary of the school.
Sheard continued, “If the number of students who wish to attend the Charter School exceeds its capacity, as determined annually by the District, the school will conduct a public random drawing/lottery. The waiting list will prioritize candidates according to the order in which they were drawn during the random drawing. The school will provide an admission preference for prospective students residing within LAUSD boundaries, but not residing within the attendance area of Canyon Charter School.”
PPCC’s Akef, the Area 8 Representative for the Polo Fields, wrote a May 27 letter to School Board Member Nick Melvoin.
“For at least the last 25 years, Canyon has considered our area as quasi-residents and made sure that children were admitted to kindergarten,” Akef said. “As recently as January 2019, parents were promised by Administration that their child would be admitted to kinder because it logically made sense, as our area has resident status for Canyon for 1-5. Who would rationally send their child to three different schools for TK [transitional kindergarten], K, and then for 1-5?
“However, last week the parents were sent a letter that now stated the district charter did not allow the promises that these parents relied on to be followed,” Akef said. “That promise led parents not to apply to any other schools or make other arrangements.”
Sheard told CTN, “Every person in that area did apply for the lottery and they all have a number, so as I have told them, they will be let in as space becomes available like the other lottery applicants. The big difference is in the past two years there have only been one to two lottery applicants from that area and this year there are 12, so there’s no way they will all get in as I don’t have that many spaces.”
CTN contacted LAUSD and Melvoin on May 28 and was told that every effort is being made to find an acceptable solution. As soon as there is an update, CTN will inform readers.