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Palisades Charter High School
Public, charter school in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California, United States
The school serves grades 9 through 12. Formerly directly administered by the Los Angeles Unified School District, the school is now an independent charter school. Its current enrollment numbers 2,903 students. Many students travel long distances to attend Palisades Charter High, which is one of the most highly ranked public high schools in the Los Angeles area.
In 2005, Palisades was recognized as a California Distinguished School. In 2015, Palisades was named one of America's Best High Schools by Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report.
The school was founded in 1961. It was built for $6 million on a filled-in canyon. At the time it was the most expensive high school in the LA City Schools. The founding principal was Herbert L. Aigner (died in 2000). The Class of 2012 was the 50th graduating class.
Prior to the founding, the property was called All Hallows Farm and for many years was owned by the Conway family: Hollywood film director Jack Conway; his wife, actress Virginia Conway -- daughter of silent screen star Francis X. Bushman -- and their two sons, one of whom, Pat Conway became an actor as well. This property was subsequently rented to actress Debbie Reynolds and her husband, singer Eddie Fisher. It was then taken, some years later, by the State by eminent domain to build the high school.
Several members of the class of 1965 were profiled in a Time magazine article, which led to a best-selling 1976 book by class members David Wallechinsky and Michael Medved, What Really Happened to the Class of '65?. The book featured interviews with several members of the class, whose experiences were recounted both individually and in groupings around shared themes such as the Vietnam War and the draft, drug experimentation, and sex. Various teachers from the school also were interviewed, among them French teacher Mr. Fred Johnson, and English teachers Miss Jean O'Brien and Mrs. Rose "Mama G" Gilbert, who retired during 2012-2013 after 63 years of teaching. At age 94, Mrs. Gilbert was the oldest active teacher in the LAUSD. The Star Wars character of Maz Kanata was based on her. The success of the book later inspired a short-lived television dramatic anthology series of the same title, which ran from December 1977 to July 1978 on NBC.
In 1989 20/20 aired an episode about the students of Palisades High School. Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "Palisades High School is characterized here as both an institution of high academic performance and high drug and alcohol use. What "20/20" doesn't ask tonight is how both are possible at the same school."
Circa 1992 there were so few students that LAUSD was considering closing the school. Pali High parents, principal Merle Price, and Pali High staff decided to advocate for making the school into a charter school. In 1993 the school, along with three feeder elementary schools, received approval from the Los Angeles Board of Education to become a charter school. This was the first time a group of schools in California became charter schools. The school asked students to abide by a behavior code and instituted new academic programs. By 1998 student enrollment recovered: it had 200 students previously attending private schools.
This school was the focus of a false email chain letter started around 2002. The message falsely claimed that a satiric message to parents about student truancies and homework problems was actually on the school's answering machine. The message was originally written in response to parent outrage that students who skipped class more than ten days per 90-schoolday semester (not counting legitimate absences, like sickness) could receive a failing grade in that class. This was reported on several web sites, including Snopes, and BreakTheChain.org.
The campus is bounded by Temescal Canyon Road to the east, Sunset Boulevard to the north, El Medio Street to the west, and Temescal Academy (formerly known as first Temescal Canyon Continuation School and later Temescal High School) to the south. It is bisected by Bowdoin Street, which runs between the school's football field and the academic center of the school. Located only a mile from Will Rogers State Beach, the football stadium is called "Stadium by the Sea."
As of 2010, approximately 43% of the student body, 1,180 out of 2,742 students, were bused to Palisades Charter High School from more than 100 Los Angeles zip codes. In 1994, approximately 70% of the student body, 1,176 out of 1,680 students, were bused from South-Central and East Los Angeles.
According to US News and World Report, 49% of Palisades Charter's student body is "of color," with 32% of the student body coming from an economically disadvantaged household, determined by student eligibility for California's Reduced-price meal program.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2014)
As of 1998[update] most of its classes are university preparatory in nature, and it hosts a mathematics, science, and technology magnet program. The school also has humanities and marine biology courses.
The school includes a New Media Academy that was, as of 1998, one of three in LAUSD. Pali High uses its charter school status to increase the visibility of this program. By that year DreamWorks had financed it with $100,000 ($156859.94 according to inflation). The location fees generated by Aaron Spelling use of the school for Malibu Shores were used to, by 1998, install a new computer lab.
As of 2002 Palisades High School offers a surfing class that can be taken for physical education credit. It was established around 1998 by Ray Millette, a marine biology teacher and surfer.
Palisades Charter High School is known for having a great music program. Its marching band has medaled 3 years in a row at the SCSBOA championships: in 2013 getting silver, in 2014 winning the gold for 3A and in 2015 getting bronze. The school also has a winter Drumline that competes in both SCPA and WGI and is also the 2016 SCPA "A class" silver medalist.
Discrimination and lawsuits
In 2016, extensive hate graffiti was found at the campus including references to the Ku Klux Klan, Jews, African-Americans, and LGBTQ people.
In June 2017, Palisades Charter High School gained national media attention after an African-American student was depicted in a student blog with a noose drawn around her neck.
Pali is the alma mater of many notable individuals, including