Dear Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD) Students, Staff and Families,


It is with great sadness that I inform you that the new principal of Bennett-Kew P-8 Leadership Academy, Mr. Christian Mendoza, died in a tragic car accident in Manhattan Beach on Tuesday night. I know you join us in sharing our deepest condolences with Principal Mendoza’s family and friends.

Principal Mendoza was a beloved member of our IUSD community and lifelong educator, having started his career at Highland Elementary School in the 1990’s. His career took him to Lennox Unified School District over the last nine years. Mr. Mendoza was an equity-driven leader, focused on student learning, well-being, and teacher growth. He understood the importance of modeling professionalism, ethics, integrity, justice, and equity. As an Adjunct Professor at California State University Dominguez Hills, Mr. Mendoza prided himself on developing and preparing future school teachers to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

Learning about the loss of someone we love and care about is difficult. I want you to know that we are here to support you. With school out for the Thanksgiving break, we have arranged with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health for student and family grief counseling services, at no cost, by calling the 24-hour helpline at 1-800-854-7771. For additional information and resources, please click on the links below:

Grieving Children- Our House

Grieving Adults- Our House

For staff, the Employee Assistance Services for Education (EASE) program is available 24/7 for support through their hotline at 1-800- 882-1341 with follow up grief counseling available as needed. For additional information and resources for staff, please click on the links below:

Coping with the Death of a Coworker

Coping with Grief

Addressing Grief: Tips for Teachers and Administrators

When classes resume next Monday, November 29, 2021, we will have counselors available to assist. For questions and further assistance, Student Support Services Staff will be available at 1-310-680-5122. We will also have Susan Ippongi, a retired IUSD administrator, at Bennett-Kew as our interim principal.

On behalf of the Inglewood Unified School District Board of Education, thank you for supporting our school community during this difficult time. Our hearts and sympathy are with Mr. Mendoza’s loved ones and our entire IUSD family.


Erika F. Torres, Ed.D., MSW 

County Administrator


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