Garfield Auditorium Still Gutted

Eastsiders should know that Garfield High School’s historic auditorium looks the same after an arson fire destroyed it almost 2 1/2 years ago. The LAT finds out that despite benefit concerts and donations, LAUSD and insurance companies are at odds over rebuilding it from the ground up, or reconstructing what remains of the historic building. They detail the debate:

L.A. Unified contends that the 1925 auditorium needs to be rebuilt from the ground to meet state building codes. But nine insurers insist that the walls are salvageable and could support a new building, district officials said. The difference in cost is considerable.


Demolition was to have been completed this fall, with construction beginning next year. Despite the uncertainty of recovering costs — estimated by the district at $46 million — designs for a new auditorium are almost complete and will be submitted soon for state approval, said facilities chief Guy Mehula. But in a further hitch, Garfield’s main administration building, which is attached to the auditorium, must be retrofitted to meet earthquake standards, and officials have not determined the level of demolition needed.

The only payouts so far have been for the cost of designs that would return the historic assembly hall to resemble its former self.  More words and pics at  [Insurance dispute takes center stage in auditorium drama]

3 thoughts on “Garfield Auditorium Still Gutted

  1. The severe damage done to both our physical plant and our arts programs by the fire would be enough upheaval for any school but students and staff are far more focused on the changes both promised, and threatened, to come here at Garfield. Next year, 1/3 of of our student body(that’s more than 1600 kids)as well as 1/3 of the faculty will be transfered to the newly constructed Esteban Torres High School. LAUSD in their wisdom, has yet to decide or announce any plans for how this process is supposed to work. At the same time our school calendar will change and we will go back to being on the traditional school schedule as opposed to the three track year round schedule we have followed for the last twenty years.

    As if that was not enough, due to continuing low scores on standardized tests, the school district has also seen fit to allow outside groups to take over the school to improve test scores. In the new competitive arena that public education has become, school groups are being allowed to submit plans that might be considered for continuing management under district approved templates of reform. “Pilot Schools”, “Extended School Based Management Model” and private groups promoting charter schools are all being debated and presented before Superintendent Cortines makes his final decision in January.

    We Bulldogs are a tough bunch with a proud tradition but we’ve taken our blows lately and we know we have a few more coming We’re all curious what this place will be like in a few years and it would be nice to think we might have rebuilt our auditorium by then. Of course, career teachers are by nature eternal optimists.

    p.s. I don’t think any of the scenes in “Grease” were filmed here. I think they used four different schools for different scenes but I think the the only campus on the East Side they used was Huntington Park. I could be wrong about that.

  2. I just moved from being a LAUSD Teacher to full CALSTRS Disability. My HMO withheld, though they tested for them in 2003 with abnormal results, two immunological medications for two associated disease states. Namely, B-12 and hypothyroidism. In 2004, I had pneumonia which was also untreated simultaneously while my LAUSD (Garfield High) Classroom/Building remained unheated resulting in permanent autoimmune diseases.

    In 2003, Garfield was assigned a new Principal, a Ms. Guadalupe Paramo. Prior, she was the Principal of Belvedere Middle School. When she left Belvedere, Paramo left 24 teaching positions unfilled (we reached a similar number at Garfield during her tenure), taught by substitute teachers.

    On or about 2004, after returning from sick leave Paramo won an Award for Most Improved Attendance before all other LAUSD Principals though our tardies for example had actually worsened during Paramo’s tenure.

    In late 2005, I filed a union grievance to have the heat for about half the school fixed. The grievance was ignored by the District. And, my class schedule continually worsened and as my untreated medical conditions become more profound–treated in 2008 with a new HMO). In 2006, I filed a Williams Case Law Complaint for lack of heat which was (also) ignored by Principal Paramo.

    In 2006, in a standing room only union meeting during lunch (standing room only happens when we have a negligent Administration), our school site union Chapter Chair Joe Renfro stated that the Paramo Administration had dismantled our functioning discipline policy. Mr. Renfro is a purple heart awarded Vietnam Vet, retired Marine Colonel. Prior to, our hard working veteran C-Track Dean John Benson quite as Dean mid-year because Paramo had allowed two students to return to school after fighting, defying Garfield’s no fight policy. Mr. Benson was the first to arrive on campus every day, about 5:AM while Paramo usually arrived late after school started, 8:AM, and only did about one week of morning supervision in 3 years.

    A B-Track science teacher complained to Ms. Paramo in a faculty meeting, wanting to know why a student was allowed to stay after his car was stolen twice (Grand Theft Auto) by the same said student.

    During the aforementioned time period, Mr. Renfro wrote an open letter to then Superintendent Roy Romer (and later meet with him when Romer visited our campus on this said issue) stating that the Paramo Administration was a Potemkin Village. In other words, a facade and that our attendance had not improved, etc. Mr. Renfro had spent a number of years as our SIS Coordinator administrating GHS’s Attendance and grades.

    Ms. Paramo was promoted as Garfield’s High Director while Assistant Principal Robert Lopez continued Ms. Paramo policy of not enforcing District-Union-School discipline policy (Lopez was later awarded a principalship).

    In 2007 a GHS student burned down Garfield’s historic auditorium costing $20 million dollars in damage and $10 million internally, for a total of $30 Million. Students and staff still do not have an auditorium and it may cost $46 Million to build.

    By late summer of 2007, Paramo was transferred as the Roosevelt High High School Director. Both Paramo and then Principal Sandoval (BHHS, same campus) both went on vacation the same week, July 2007, abandoning the Boyle Heights Continuation Campus for teachers to run (alone), inexplicably without any administrator.

    Garfield and Roosevelt are some of the largest high schools in the USA.

    LAUSD is aware of ALL of the said issues and more since they are outlined in my 2008 PERB Complaint.

    No serious education reform can take place, nor a balance budget, until LAUDS is truly reformed. I am sure you are as concerned as I am.

    Yours truly, John W. Adams

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *