Friday, September 24, 2010


from LA Times/L.A. NOW | Southern California -- this just in | Category: Education |

Electronic equipment stolen at Watts Learning Center [Updated]

by Howard Blume, L.A. Times

September 23, 2010 |  4:17 pm - One of the city’s highly regarded schools, the Watts Learning Center, was the target of a break-in and the theft of most of its electronic equipment from a new classroom building, a school official said.
The losses included 20 laptop computers, half a dozen desktop computers, projectors and cellphones -- basically everything electronic from six of nine classrooms in the building, said Gene Fisher, the school’s founder and chief executive.

Watts Learning Center is an independently operated, free public charter school in the 300 block of West 95th Street in the Broadway-Manchester area.
“We’re still in a state of shock, and we have to assess what we do next,” Fisher said. “But we’re not going to be deterred. The good schools are not exempt from some of the ravages of crime.”

The break-in occurred sometime between 8:30 p.m. Sept. 15, after a parents' meeting, and 6:30 a.m. Sept. 16, when the school's staff arrived. [Corrected at 8:45 p.m.: An earlier version of this post erroneously reported that the burglary occurred Wednesday.]

The burglars apparently broke a thick window over the door, getting around the building’s security measures. While police investigated, teachers held classes outside and in the auditorium.

The school, which serves a low-income, mostly African American population, posted its highest score -- 860 -- this year on the state’s Academic Performance Index. The state’s target score for schools is 800. If every student at a school tested as academically proficient, a school’s score would be 875.

The perpetrators, Fisher said, “didn’t get the kind of education these kids are getting.”

Anyone with information should contact the Los Angeles Police Department at (877) 527-3247 or provide an anonymous tip by calling (800) 222-8477.

Fences dismantled at three South Bay high schools

by My-Thuan Tran | LA Times/LANow!

September 23, 2010 |  8:12 am - For the first time in years, three schools in the Centinela Valley Union High School District in the South Bay do not have iron fences surrounding their campuses.

Eight-foot-high fences in front of Hawthorne, Lawndale and Leuzinger high schools were removed during summer vacation to make the campuses "more welcoming," said Mike Ono, associate principal of Leuzinger High School in Lawndale.

The fences were installed in the 1990s, when the schools experienced more violence and racial tension, both on campus and off. During that period, gunshots rang out several times near the campuses, wounding students.

Administrators worried about gang violence, and the 1992 Los Angeles riots also created concern.

"I think the fences were taken down to make it a more welcoming school," Ono said. "When fences are up, it's a barrier."

Ono said the fences had been erected in the students' interest.

"It was protecting students from people coming on to campus from off campus," he said.

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