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LAUSD Cuts the Ribbon on Felicitas & Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center

Contact:                                                                                                        September 24, 
2009
Shannon Haber (213) 241- 4575                                                             #049
                                                                                                                            
LAUSD CUTS THE RIBBON ON FELICITAS & 
GONZALO MENDEZ LEARNING CENTER
First new high school in Boyle Heights in 85 years is a model of 
reform

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board President Mónica 
García joined Los Angeles City Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles City Councilmember 
José Huizar, California State Senator Gloria Romero and special guests today to cut the ribbon 
on the Felícitas and Gonzalo Méndez Learning Center (Méndez LC).  The campus, which 
opened to more than 1,000 students on September 9, 2009, features two small schools focused 
on Engineering & Technology and Math & Science and has enabled Roosevelt High School to 
return to a traditional, 180-day academic calendar for the first time in 15 years.

"Méndez Learning Center is a wonderful example of the educational reform and key 
partnerships that are moving LAUSD into a new era of innovation and success for all our 
students," said Board President Mónica García.  "Mendez's two small schools will deliver a 
focused and personalized academic experience in an environment where teachers and 
administrators have more opportunity to encourage and inspire their students - run with the 
support of a valuable partner directly invested in its success, the Partnership for Los Angeles 
Schools."

Méndez LC is LAUSD's first new school project to fully implement the reform model of Small 
Schools, as mandated by a resolution passed by the Board of Education in June 2008.  The 
campus consists of two schools, each serving approximately 500 students and each featuring its 
own dedicated classroom building, academic program and administration.  One school focuses 
on math and science, and features courses in biology, chemistry, and environmental science.  
Instruction at the second school has a technology and engineering focus and offers courses in 
computer science, robotics and architectural drafting.

Méndez LC is also one of LAUSD's premier iDesign Schools.  The iDesign Schools Division 
works in partnership with LAUSD's Network Partners - one of five established civic and 
academic institutions with knowledge and resources - to improve student achievement.  With the 
help of Network Partners, iDesign Schools have increased decision-making authority over issues 
of curriculum, instructional strategies, professional development, hiring, school budgets, school 
schedule and school programs.  In the case of Méndez LC, the school operates with the support 
of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools established by Los Angeles City Mayor Antonio 
Villaraigosa.  

"This is an exciting time for the families of East Los Angeles as we celebrate the opening of the 
first new school in this community in over 80 years," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.  "With its 
innovative composition and dedicated teachers and administrators, I am thrilled that the Méndez 
Learning Center is one of my Partnership Schools and am confident that it will prepare its 
students for college and beyond."

"The Méndez Learning Center is more than a school, it is the realization of a dream that I had 
and the community shared," said Councilmember José Huizar, who championed the building of 
a new Boyle Heights high school with a focus on math and science as president of the school 
board. "Today that dream is just beginning. Thousands of children will soon discover limitless 
possibilities on this state-of-the-art campus with the kind of academic focus that will have a 
profound effect on their lives and the lives of their families. Today is a proud day for Boyle 
Heights."
 
The campus is named after two Mexican American civil rights leaders, Felíᆳcitas and Gonzalo 
Méndez, whose children were denied entry into 17th Street School in Westminster, California 
because they were Mexican American.  The Méndez v. Westminster School District is a 
landmark desegregation case that successfully ended segregation in California and is a 
precursor to later court cases including Brown v. Board of Education.

"It is inspiring and encouraging to know that there are still so many people like my grandparents 
who are persistent and will not give up and who have a vision and  hope for all children to 
receive endless opportunities in education and to inspire them to pursue their dreams in life," said 
Johanna Mendez, granddaughter of Felícitas and Gonzalo Méndez.  "The students who enter the 
Méndez Learning Center can be proud when they walk into their new school knowing all the 
history that lies behind the name and the history that lies behind it being built."

"Today's dedication proudly enshrines the Méndez name as American heroes and pioneers in 
recognizing that education is the civil rights issue of our time," said California State Senator 
Gloria Romero, Chair of the Senate Education Committee.  "Their long fight for educational 
equality and justice inspires us to continue that quest on behalf of over six million California 
students today.  Sí se puede!"

The two small schools share core facilities including: a library, a multipurpose room, food 
service, a parent center, competition gymnasium, outdoor physical education facilities and 
underground parking.  Buildings and spaces are arranged to permit after-hours access to certain 
areas, such as the gym and athletic field.  A joint use agreement is currently in place with 
CalSouth Soccer for organized youth development and activities during after school hours.

"This new neighborhood high school means Roosevelt High School returned to a single track 
calendar with a full 180 days of instruction this school year," said LAUSD Chief Facilities 
Executive Guy Mehula.  "Our building program has ended involuntary busing of elementary 
school students and reduced involuntary busing of secondary school students by more than 80 
percent.  Nearly 140 schools have returned to operating on a traditional calendar.  We are 
delivering on our commitment to the community."

Méndez LC is one of 80 new schools completed as part of LAUSD's $20.1 Billion New School 
Construction and Modernization Program to end involuntary busing and year round calendars, 
and to provide every student a seat in a safe and healthy neighborhood school.  For more 
information, please visit www.laschools.org. 

For more information on LAUSD's iDesign Schools and LAUSD Network Partners, please visit:  
www.idesignschools.org.  

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