A decision about the location of a new middle school serving the West Hollywood and Fairfax communities has been put on hold.
Cheryl Hildreth, superintendent of Local District West, this week sent a letter to parents of children attending schools in the district saying that district officials have decided to delay a request that the L.A. Unified School District approve a location for the West Hollywood Fairfax Academy.
That delay means the proposed new middle school will not be open for the 2020/2021 school year.
“Over the next few months, we will be engaging all stakeholders in the discussion about strong middle school options, including existing schools and the potential location of a new program,” Hildreth said in her letter. “This engagement will ensure that all factors—most importantly, our mission to serve the diverse needs of all students—are carefully considered before presenting anything to the Board of Education.”
Nick Melvoin, the LAUSD board member representing the fourth district, got pushback from parents of students at Laurel Span School who learned that district officials were considering putting the new middle school on the Laurel campus, which is at 925 N. Hayworth Ave., just outside the West Hollywood city limits. Two other locations that have been under consideration are the Fairfax High School campus on Melrose Avenue and the West Hollywood Community Day School at 1049 N. Fairfax Ave. At that meeting, Melvoin assured parents that the new middle school wouldn’t have been located on the Laurel campus.
Laurel’s classes range from kindergarten through eighth grade, and parents of its students are concerned that another middle school also offering classes to children from sixth to eighth grade might mean resources would be diverted from Laurel. Many of the parents of Laurel’s students live outside Melvoin’s 4th District but work in communities like Hollywood and West Hollywood and drop their children off to school at Laurel on their way to and from work. Seventy-three percent of Laurel’s students are from racial or ethnic minorities.
The proposal for a new middle school has been supported by parents of some students at West Hollywood Elementary School, the only public school within the boundaries of the City of West Hollywood. Two-thirds of the students attending West Hollywood Elementary are white.
Melvoin and Hildreth had hoped to submit the middle school plan to the Board of Education on Nov. 15 so that it could have been placed on the Board’s Dec. 3 agenda. The plan had been for WHFP to begin operating in the fall of 2020 with 125 sixth-grade students, five teachers, and an administrator. It then would have expanded by 2022 to serve 360 students with two administrators and 16 teachers spanning sixth through eighth grades.
There are five other elementary schools that have expressed support for a new middle school — Cheremoya, Gardner, Melrose, Rosewood, and Wonderland. The only other public middle school relatively near them is Bancroft Middle School on Las Palmas Avenue, just east of Highland Avenue and outside of West Hollywood’s city limits.