In February 2004, a group of parents convened in their neighbor Lindsay Sturman’s back yard to discuss creating an alternative neighborhood school within the Los Angeles Unified School District. At the time, their existing local elementary school in the Hollywood area lacked diversity, was overcrowded, and was under-performing. The group wanted much more for their children and the community. They wanted the school to reflect the racial and socio-economic diversity of their neighborhood and Los Angeles at large. They wanted a more progressive, constructivist curriculum and academic rigor. And they wanted to harness the energy of families, educators, and the surrounding community by making volunteerism a pillar of the school. Larchmont Charter grew out of a dream.
Partnering with fellow Harvard alumna Dvora Inwood, an experienced educator who recently had received a Masters in Education from Stanford, Lindsay and fellow co-founders Heather Boylston and Rebecca Hutchinson united a team that would make Larchmont Charter a reality. Along with a group of passionate and dedicated Founding Parents, the team lived and breathed Larchmont Charter from that first planning day in February 2004. They worked with LAUSD, wrote the charter petition, found a school site and refurbished it, raised funds and were awarded grants, reached out to the community to recruit a diverse student body, hired teachers and a principal, and developed a Board of Directors with a wide range of expertise. In all, dozens of families donated more than 30,000 volunteer hours and raised more than $1 million, and received unanimous approval of their charter petition from LAUSD’s Board of Education.
Larchmont Charter opened in September 2005 as a K-2nd grade elementary school with 120 students. The school remains steadfast in its commitment to the Founding Parents’ original dream and the co-founders have a rotating seat on the Board to ensure the mission they set forth is fulfilled.
Inspired by the success of Larchmont Charter, a second group of parents led by Marya Francis and Jay Owens approached the leaders of the original school and asked for guidance and support in opening a sister school. The result was Larchmont Charter School-West Hollywood (LCW), a separate K-8 charter school, which opened its doors in September of 2008.
With Larchmont’s expansion, the dream grew. The community now wanted to offer every Larchmont student a path from kindergarten through 12th grade. Larchmont amended its charter to include a high school, and in 2011 the LAUSD School Board approved it. Still, students from Larchmont Charter-West Hollywood would be unable to attend the high school without going through a new lottery. And so, in the spring of 2013, the two schools merged into one Larchmont Charter School, so that every student at either the original Larchmont Charter School or Larchmont Charter-West Hollywood would be able attend the new high school.
Larchmont Charter is a shining star of the charter movement, is one of the highest-performing schools in Los Angeles and has been the inspiration for numerous diverse, progressive charter schools across Southern California.
Today Larchmont Charter School has over 1,400 students enrolled in grades TK-12 across four campuses. Larchmont graduated its first senior class in June, 2016.