Here’s an interesting wrinkle in the San Diego Unified school district: La Jolla High School still enjoys autonomy from school district mandates on how and what to teach, though the agreement was hatched out of dissent with reforms introduced by then-superintendent Alan Bersin.

San Diego Unified agreed to free La Jolla High from district control on curriculum, textbook selection and other instructional choices in a 2002 agreement crafted to prevent LJHS from becoming a charter school. The high-achieving school had submitted a charter application to escape the Blueprint for Student Success, Bersin’s school reform plan. Here’s the agreement, which was unanimously approved by the board, and some subsequent attachments.

The agreement is contingent on LJHS keeping its academic performance high. Under the terms of that agreement, LJHS will present its own proposal for history textbook adoptions for the San Diego Unified school board’s approval on Tuesday. Principal Dana Shelburne said though the Blueprint is gone, LJHS still benefits from its autonomy.

“What we’ve discovered is that having the freedom and the flexibility that we have under that document allows us to respond quickly to what we perceive as student needs,” Shelburne said. “It allows us to quickly identify textbooks we’d like, if we don’t like district adoption.”

The agreement also gives children of La Jolla High staff priority to attend the school, regardless of where they live, Shelburne explained.

“Teachers who have their kids here are very pleased. It gives them the ability to closely watch and monitor their children,” Shelburne said. He chuckled. “And of course their children are delighted about that.”


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