Third Street Elementary Avoids New Charter on Campus

Third Street Elementary parents and teachers protested LAUSD’s decision to offer space at the elementary school to a charter school.

HANCOCK PARK—Third Street Elementary School has narrowly averted a charter school co-locating on its campus after a fierce effort by parents and teachers lobbying Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and city officials.

In February, school parents first heard Citizens of the World Charter (CWC) had until May 1st to accept an invitation by LAUSD to expand to Third Street Elementary.

Concern rippled among Third Street’s parents regarding the toll on classroom space and neighborhood traffic a CWC co-location would invite.

After parents voiced their discontent to the school board, LAUSD backed off the idea just prior to a March 28th board of education meeting.

Third Street parents said they were relieved.

“We were very excited when we received official word that the school was no longer coming to our campus,” said parent Claudia Rips.

The issue dates to mid-February when rumors spread around Third Street’s campus that Citizens of the World was considering relocating the bulk of its students to Third Street in accordance with Prop. 39, which California voters passed in 2000.

Under Prop. 39, school districts are required by state law to share public school facilities among all of its students, including charter school pupils.

With nearly 700 students already on campus, parents at Third Street were concerned the addition of a charter would take away classroom space the school uses for additional extracurricular classes, which the parents subsidize.

“It really was astonishing that they were going to offer up those classrooms for things that we are already providing,” Rips said.

Additionally, parents said they were concerned about traffic and safety.

“We were all very concerned how this would affect the community, the neighborhood at large,” Rips said.

Already, Third Street and the adjacent Yavneh Academy stagger their school schedules to reduce traffic congestion.

“Traffic in the area is just crazy. We’ve already had kids hit by cars,” Rips said.

The parents mobilized to reach Los Angeles City councilmembers, school board members and the LAUSD superintendent via social media. As momentum gained to block the charter, the parents began receiving faculty support.

“The teachers protested with us during their off time in the mornings before they started work,” Rips said.

A petition soon gathered more than 3,500 signatures from parents and area residents, including Koreatown business owners.

“We have a strong Korean language program on campus,” Rips said. “People went out in force and got the community involved.”

LAUSD officials would not comment on an alternate site for Citizens.

However, not every Third Street parent feels secure about the victory.

“We are thrilled, but … this only preserves the 2017-18 school year,” said Donna Ekholdt, who son is in the 5th grade at Third Street. “As long as Prop. 39 is valid … Third Street will be at risk.”

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