Follow up inspections have revealed that Inglewood schools are improving since KPCC reported filthy and unsafe conditions in November.
Deplorable photos of moldy walls, water-damaged ceilings, rats and cockroaches—to name a few violations—sent shockwaves throughout Inglewood, prompting immediate demands for repairs and clean up.
Decades of neglect, coupled with the school district’s financial crisis and recent downsizing of maintenance workers snowballed into conditions which were intolerable. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and former Assemblyman Steven Bradford visited Inglewood and Morningside high schools. Members of Morningside’s Alumni Assn. also showed up to see first-hand what changes had been made.
According to NBC, 85 percent of the work has been completed. It is not clear, however, why it took an embarrassing investigative report before any action was taken. Teachers say they complained a long time before anything was done.
An $18 million deficit—which caused the state to take over the district in 2012—has been blamed for substandard conditions. However, letting go of maintenance workers has also worsened problems.
Last year, state appointed trustee Don Brann laid off 150 employees, including most of the cleaning crew, and all 23 campus security guards. The 2014-15 school year began without security at most of the district’s 20 schools. As a result, there have been security problems as well as unsafe and unsanitary conditions in school buildings. At the same time, Brann drew criticism for having $300,000 allocated toward his personal security, which he defended by saying he did not know if Inglewood was safe.
Major maintenance and repair work still needs to be done. Morningside High School will be completely repainted, most likely during spring or summer break, when students are away from campus. It will be the first time the school has been painted since it opened in 1952. Plans are also underway to totally rebuild Inglewood High School. However, the district must repay its $55 million loan first and get out of receivership.