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More than 50 camp out in hopes of transfering their children into LCUSD

March 15, 2011|By Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com
  • Dan Klein of Altadena camps Monday night outside LCUSD headquarters hoping to secure enrollment in the district for three of his children. Klein, who showed up Saturday night, was the first of some 50 people in line. (Joe Piasecki/Valley Sun)
Dan Klein of Altadena camps Monday night outside LCUSD…

It wasn’t the latest iPad or the promise of front-row concert tickets but a chance to enroll their children in the La Cañada Unified School District that led more than 50 people to spend Monday night sleeping on the sidewalk.

LCUSD’s annual inter-district enrollment process allows some parents who live outside the district the chance to enroll their children here on a first-come, first-served basis.

And although the district only started accepting applications Tuesday morning, dozens of people showed up as early as the weekend to snag a place near the front of the line.

Dan Klein — a mechanical engineer at JPL who lives in Altadena, part of the Pasadena Unified School District — had arrived late Saturday night to snag the very first place in line. Klein hopes to enroll students next year in the sixth, eighth and eleventh grades.

Priority for inter-district student enrollment goes first to children of LCUSD employees, then to people such as Klein who are employed full-time in La Cañada Flintridge, said LCUSD Governing Board member Scott Tracy.

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If any spots are leftover, students from underperforming schools in other districts may then apply, but Tracy said it’s unlikely there would be many of those openings.

In order to make up for declining enrollment, LCUSD permitted a total of roughly 400 out-of-district students (about 10% of the total district enrollment) last year. This year, said Tracy, the cap is 11% — meaning only about 50 new students will be allowed to join the district.

Paul Lichtenberg of Pasadena, who snagged the No. 19 spot in line around 8 a.m. Monday, was hoping to transfer one of his two children from exclusive private schools — in part, he said, because LCUSD offers educational opportunities similar to those costly, elite academies.

“It’s too expensive to continue to send our kids to private school. I have to start saving for college. This district is ranked No. 2 in the state, and Pasadena public schools are not an option for us,” Lichtenberg said.

This week was the third time Jason Johnson, a JPL IT systems engineer who lives in Pasadena, had camped outside LCUSD headquarters.

Johnson was shut out two years ago before state laws removed some previous barriers against inter-district transfers, but last year he got his first-grader in the district, and this time around he was back for a spot in kindergarten for a younger child.

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