Elysian Heights school pays tribute to its top custodian

The students and staff at Elysian Heights Elementary gathered on the playground Thursday morning to pay tribute to one of the school’s longtime employees, Nick Maldonado. Maldonado is not a teacher or an administrator. He’s the school’s plant manager who is charge of keeping the school grounds clean and overseeing repair work and other maintenance. But students won’t be seeing much of Maldonado  in the future after L.A. Unified shifted most elementary school cleaning and maintenance crews to work after the school day ends. Many parents at Elysian Heights and other schools opposed the changed, saying it would take longer to clean up and repair campuses. An Elysian Heights resident named Kim who had opposed the new policy provided a few details about what she called Nick Maldonado Appreciation Day:

“The entire staff, all the teachers, students as well as many parents were present to say goodbye to Mr. Maldonado who had taken care of the school for over 12 years. As of next week, though, due to a new LAUSD maintenance plan, Mr. Maldonado will no longer be a daily part of the EHES community. Each class sang a song or read poems that expressed how much they appreciate him, and how much he has meant to them and the school. EHE is losing a close member of its family. An incredibly moving event. I think in a few months, the surrounding community will also realize how much they have lost.”

Photos by John Eder


  1. Such a bummer. Whenever people want to find a sense of community in Echo Park, they should refer to this story…

  2. Looks like the Genification has slowed down, properties are more stable we know who’s staying who’s left. As a long time community resident 30 plus years I’ve seem so many changes, some I like, most i didn’t it was hard to swallow, but progress marches on. Having had sick parents to take care of I stopped going to meetings and stuff to center myself/ focus. My dad passed away, my mom is permantantly hospitalized, my handicapped brother lives with me now. Lots of changes just like the community, I can now see it through a NEW point of view. Hope people can now be nicer to each other, take the time to get to know someone before you comdemn what you think you see. Senor Maldonaldo was like a grandfather to some of these kids, it’s like granpa died. It is a shame what LAUSD has done. I’m happy to have read that Don Maldonado was appreciated for his hard work, patience, hard work.

  3. Good words EchoParkLady and great story Eastsider.

    Something tells me ol’ Nick will still help out around that school somehow.

  4. This is TRULY a shame for ALL LAUSD schools especially the CHILDREN. My son attends Melrose Magnet Elementary, and LAUSD last month announced that they would getting rid of Melrose’s two daytime custodial staff plus a fulltime front office staff. It is sad because the 2 custodial/maintenance staff members have been very helpful, prompt, and HELP with EVERYTHING at the school, not just dumping the trash. They also do electrical work.
    My brother, a LAUSD maintenance / electrician staff member over in the Northeast Valley, is also losing his daytime job next month. And my brother HUSTLES to get the maintenance work down. So he is also bummed. They told him night-time ‘staff’ could do the job….for less money (i.e. less benefits).

    I feel for all LAUSD maintenance staff. But I feel for the children especially at the elementary level.
    My son told me he has seen defecation on the floor, twice, in the school’s boy’s restroom. I asked him who cleaned the ‘poo’ on both occasions. He answered the maintenance man.
    Then some kids have ‘thrown up’ at school. Who cleaned it? The maintanance man.
    The school had a Halloween festival. Who helped with moving items around, cleaning, etc.? The maintanance man.

    The icky jobs will NOT be done during daytime hours. They will have to be done after hours (after 4 p.m.). Great. So now excrement, throw-up, other chemicals from science projects, etc. will just remain on the floors until the evening staff appears?

    And how MUCH do maintance staff make?! Not much.
    And HOW MUCH do LAUSD Management bureaucrats earn per year?
    Disgusting how LAUSD manages the $$.

    PS – All the parents emailed, faxed, sent letters to LAUSD managers pleading that Melrose NOT LOSE its 2 maintenace staff. But it was to no avail! We don’t live in a democracy! -Rocky from Echo Park

  5. Dear “Rocky from Echo Park”,

    I read your comment with interest yesterday. I work at a law firm representing a man who worked as an electrician at LAUSD from 1964-1987. He died last year from an asbestos-related cancer and we do not have much information from he or his family about jobs & sites where he worked and the actual work he did. We are not suing LAUSD, but are looking at the manufacturers and suppliers of materials he may have worked with that contained asbestos.

    I was hoping to talk to some older or retired LAUSD electricians and thought perhaps your brother would be able to tell me if there is a retirees group or if there’s anyone he knows who might be helpful.

    I would sincerely appreciate a call or e-mail back. My direct line is (415) 273-8115, we are in SF. Toll-free is (877) 575-4529, ext. 115. You can check out our website here: http://www.levinsimeskaisergornick.com/

    Thank you for your consideration. Any help would greatly assist our client’s family.


    Audrey Shoji

  6. I’m not quiet sure if nick was a custodian when I was in elysian heights from 90 to 97.. I do on the other hand remember two of the best custodians.. (not taking any glory away from nick.). At the time.. there were two black guys named darrel and jim. Who both served in vietnam.. also gotta give a shout out to o.g school yard coach mark and coach 99.. woot woot!.. and to mrs. Haulgren. And mr. Elmer.. mrs lee and mrs. Vaseirie were down too!!!… r.I.p room 6…

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