Vernon Schoolhouse Home To LAUSD Parent Center

By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, EGP News Report

Parents play a big role at Vernon City Elementary School. They bring food, help clean up, and do whatever they can to help.

So when they asked for English language classes, there was no hesitating. “We gave it to them,” said Principal April Diedrich.

At first the classes of about 10 or so parents were constantly on the move, depending on the availability of space. Sometimes they were in a classroom, sometimes in the auditorium.

But last Thursday they found a place of their own – a yellow, one-room schoolhouse that 134 years ago served as the site for the original Vernon school.

Read this story IN SPANISH: Primer Centro de Padres de LAUSD tiene Techo en la Escuelita Histórica de Vernon

A ribbon cutting marks this schoolhouse as the first site in a $20 million LAUSD initiative to open or upgrade nearly 300 parent centers.

“This center will be a valuable resource hub for parents as they support their children’s education,” said LAUSD Board Member Yolie Flores at the ribbon cutting.

LAUSD Board Member Yolie Flores, center, celebrated Vernon City Elementary school’s new parent center with a ribbon cutting. The new center is located in a restored 134 year old schoolhouse. (Photo courtesy of LAUSD)


On Tuesday, the parent English language class held its first session at the new Vernon City Elementary Parent and Family Center, which will also house other parent programs including nutrition and fitness classes, and pre-kindergarten parenting classes, with around 25 parents a day using the programs.

“Everything came together,” said Diedrich, who explained they happened to be in the process of restoring the schoolhouse when the district came around asking about extra space to house the new parent center.

According to Diedrich, about 50 percent of the students at the school attend on a permit, meaning parents made a conscious attempt to place their children at the school, rather than their local school.

Many of the parents work in Vernon, making the school’s location convenient. Others might be looking at the overall API score of the 260 students at the school, which currently sits at 791. Asked if she thinks the school will break the recommended 800 score, Diedrich replied, “We’d better! We’re so close!”

Diedrich says the schoolhouse was designated a historical site in 1975, when a group of Huntington Park High School construction trade students came along to help save the building from demolition and began its restoration.

The parent center grant helped to fund the final phase of the schoolhouse’s restoration, she says. In the past, fix-ups would occur every five years or so, following the drib and drab pace of funding availability.

Diedrich says future plans for the parent center include holding technology classes using the facility’s 25 new laptops. With much of their children’s education information now online, these classes will give parents the tools to keep track of their children’s education, she said, adding that parents will also have better access to teachers, and vice versa through email.

But not everything at the parent center is shiny sign of the times – a strong pull on a thick rope at the back of the room causes the old schoolhouse bell to chime, a call to parents to engage in their children’s education.

Vernon City Elementary School Principal April Diedrich tugs on a rope to ring the school house bell. (EGP photo by Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou)

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June 23, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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