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School Flight Part 2: Not everyone chooses to leave neighborhood schools

Special Report: School Flight

Many parents ignore conventional wisdom about class and race and enroll in neighborhood schools. Some see a resurgence at Adams, TeWinkle and Estancia.

September 05, 2011|By Mike Reicher, mike.reicher@latimes.com

But even proponents of integration acknowledge that cross-cultural relationships can sometimes prove difficult.

Hume said her daughter is less social than some, and her classmates' different ZIP code and cultural background exacerbated that. At one point, Hume said she was open to transferring her to Davis Magnet School in Costa Mesa.

"She doesn't have a whole social group … and I felt bad for her," she said. "I fully support the school, but at the end of the day, I want my kid to be happy."

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Many parents make the decision to go elsewhere without first trying Adams or the other Newport-Mesa schools. Since around the mid-1990s, when the U.S. Department of Educationrequired Adams to enroll students from the Westside, families from Mesa Verde families have been fleeing.

The holdouts say parents need to see the schools for themselves and not decide based on preconceptions and what others say.

"I think there is just the fear of the unknown," said Knapp, who was one of the original holdouts; the district re-drew its boundaries to include Westside students when her eldest was in kindergarten. "We fought pretty hard to get people to try it."

At living room chats, they would endure parents telling that they were sending their kids to terrible schools.

"There are times you feel it's insulting," Knapp said.

Meanwhile, the Westside parents are generally satisfied with Adams. Carmen Sanchez, whose daughter Susan finished sixth grade at Adams last year, said the teachers there are more devoted and caring than at Wilson Elementary, where Susan spent kindergarten.

"It's the better one because it's on the other side," Sanchez said.

Coming Wednesday: Some Mesa Verde families are returning to the neighborhood schools as principals employ business strategies to break preconceptions. Now, district officials are looking for ways to attract more children.

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