Not happy with your neighborhood school?

By Becky Koppenhaver

Many of the Echo Park parents who were disappointed when L.A. Unified selected a charter school to operate a new neighborhood campus now have to decide where to send their kids. Most of those parents have ruled out enrolling their children at the new school that will be run by Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, said Windy O’Malley, co-founder of  Echo Park Moms and Dads Group for Education, which had lobbied for another group to manage the campus. As a result, she said many of those parents are in the midst of seeking out alternative schools for their children.

But some parents may not know the full-extent of the options available when it comes to choosing an alternative public school, said L.A. Unified Pupil Services Representative Emily Hernandez.  If a child’s home address is assigned to a charter school, for example, parents can request a transfer through the district to a new school within their area, she said.  And there are other options.

“School assignments generally go by a child’s address, but because of L.A. Unified School District Public Choice Option, parents do have a choice of where to send their children to school,” Hernandez said.

The district has published a brochure called “Introduction to Enrollment and Transfer Options” that clearly spells out and organizes information on seven different transfer options that can otherwise seem overwhelming and confusing. The brochure also includes email addresses, phone numbers for inevitable questions, and deadlines.

One option parents may not know about is called an intra-district permit. Hernandez said that an intra-district permit depends on whether the school has room for your child. “If so, it’s really up to the principal of the school as to whether they will accept you,” Hernandez said.  If you can make a good case for yourself, it might help you child get into a new school.

“‘Do you work in the area? Do you have other children in schools in the area?’ These are things that might be taken into consideration,” Hernandez said.

An intra-district permit is handled directly at the school site and became available on March 1, 2011. There is no deadline for these types of transfer requests.

As in past years, many high-performing, parent-active elementary schools in the area are expected to have at least a few openings this year, among them are Echo Park’s Elysian Heights Elementary, which had 12 slots open last year and expects as many this year. Allesandro Elementary in Silver Lake and Mt. Washington Elementary might also have openings.

According to Sheryl Enriquez, Mt. Washington Elementary office assistant, the student population at the hilltop campus fluctuates slightly each year, and occasionally a few open seats need to be filled by students from other areas. She said the school doesn’t know yet how many seats will be available, but the best way to find out if a school will have room is to call and let the principal know you are interested.

Other options listed on the brochure include, LAUSD Open Enrollment, Schools for Advanced Studies, No Child Left Behind Public School Choice, Romero Open Enrollment Act transfers, and information on magnet schools.

Meanwhile, O’Malley says she is looking around at other schools in the area, considering all her options, and hoping to find one that she feels will be a good fit for her child.

Becky Koppenhaver is a freelance writer covering schools. You can send Becky story tips and ideas at becky@theEastsiderLA.com

Photo from Elysian Heights Elementary website


  1. Although I was in strong support for the LD4 Community Plan for many reasons, I am going to continue to my goal to make CRES #14 the best in can be to fit our community. After being told on three occasions I could opt out of attending Camino Nuevo if I did not choose their mandatory bi-lingual program, I felt they were not aiming to serve our diverse population. Now that they have been chosen to operate the school, they are now willing to accommodate the demands of our community. I plan on working closely to ensure there will be a strand that will be instructed in English and to add more arts.
    It is important to spread the word that there will be an alternative to the bi-lingual program and parents will have a choice. This was not to be a possibility before our community spoke out, wrote letters, signed our petition, and demanded that this publicly funded school serve its whole attendance boundary. What a great opportunity for Camino Nuevo to take the input from parents as has been repeatedly promised.
    The coming weeks will be very important as enrollment will determine changes in their curriculum so I urge anyone interested in sending their children to Camino Nueve to visit one of their campuses and to voice your preferences as soon as possible. Now is the time to shape this school to best fit Echo Park.

  2. Your forgot to mention that Clifford Street Elementary School, a small Blue Ribbon school in Echo Park, is also an excellent choice for parents who are shopping around for schools in the area.

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