About Us » History


The Communication and Technology School within the Diego Rivera Learning complex, opened September 7, 2011. A result of overcrowding, and a desire to improve the educational needs of students in underserved communities, Diego Rivera is the first comprehensive secondary high school built in the South Central area in 44 years. The school relieved overcrowding for Fremont High School, which at one time enrolled 4,000 to 5,000 students on a year-round schedule. The data indicates that students matriculating to Diego Rivera during its first years of operation have experienced a high dropout rate and low academic achievement. Successful students have enrolled in competing charter schools or LAUSD magnets school of choice. This initial influx of high numbers of low performing students has slowed due to effective recruitment of students through the districts new Zone of Choice enrollment process. The Zone of Choice

gives families the opportunities to choose from a variety of High Schools in their region. The Freemont zone of choice include, the Diego Rivera schools, Freemont High School, and Dymally.

The academic and operational plans of the Diego Rivera campus are based on the small Pilot School model with four schools sharing one campus: Public Service Community School, Communication and Technology School (CATS), Green Design School, and Performing Arts School. As part of Public School Choice, teachers submitted plans to the district and the PSO organization that outlined the foundation of the schools currently present on the Diego Rivera

campus. These plans were intended to serve as guiding principles for the schools. Due to changes in leadership at the district level and disagreements on plan implementation original teacher teams whose proposals received approval did not become founding members of the schools. This has had an impact on the level of buy-in and original plan implementation by teachers at the sites. This also led to the Diego Rivera campus being treated as a comprehensive school during its first two years of existence. Themes were not clearly defined and students were allowed to take courses from all of the schools on the campus. Over the last two years under the leadership of the Intensive Support and Innovation Center (ISIC), a service center within LAUSD, the schools were asked to create clear themed pathways in order to fulfill the intentions laid out in the schools’ original plans. This has led to a decrease of pass-porting students between schools, as well as more theme-based class offerings within small schools.

Each school opened with grades 9 through 11, and accommodated between 450 to 550 students, grades 9 through 12. The faculty of each school consists of one principal, one counselor, approximately 14 teachers, and one office technician. The schools share the following positions: 1 School Psychologist, 1 Nurse, and 1 Librarian, 1 College Advisor, 2 School Police Officers, 1 Foster Youth Counselor and 1 School Administrative Assistant. A Site Operations Assistant Principal oversees the day-to- day operations of the school; which include; discipline, facilities, and athletics. Four campus aides, and two School Police officers work with the Operations Assistant Principal in the areas of school safety.

CATS currently consists of one principal, an assistant principal, one counselor, intervention coordinator, one community representative, one community schools coordinator, one instructional coach, one office technician, one campus aide, 5 teacher assistants, 3 day psychiatric social worker, 3 day pupil services attendance counselor, eighteen teachers and four special education teachers. Currently, CATS serves 541 students, a growth of 237 students since its 2011 inception.

CATS operates under the Pilot School Organization (PSO) within the Los Angeles Unified School District. Through a memorandum of understanding, the four pilot schools on the Diego

Rivera campus have the following autonomies.

  1. Staffing: Pilot schools have the freedom to hire and excess their staff in order to create a unified school community (the one area of staffing that Pilots are still subject to the contract is that in times of layoff they are subject to bumping by seniority). This includes:
    Deciding on staffing patterns which best meet the academic, social, and emotional  needs of students.
    Hiring staff that best fit the needs of the school, regardless of their current status (member of the district or not, although every teacher hired becomes a member of the local teachers union)
    Every Pilot School must have in place an “Elect to Work Agreement” (EWA), outlining work conditions at the school and approved by two-thirds of the certificated staff. EWA should identify timelines for transfers and hiring so as to allow teachers not staying at the school ample opportunity to make an informed decision should they opt to transfer to another school within the district. Pilot School teachers maintain the same transfer rights as any other teacher in the district.
    The principal is responsible for evaluating staff and ensuring that they receive proper assistance in their annual EWA, any additional teachers evaluation measures that staff agrees will enhance their school’s performance.
  2. Budget: Most Pilot schools have a lump sum per pupil budget in which the school has total discretion to spend in the manner that provides the best programs and services to students and their families. This includes:
    A lump sum per pupil budget, the sum of which is equal to other schools within that grade span
    The district has moved toward itemizing all central office costs, and allows Pilot schools to choose to purchase identified discretionary district services, or to not purchase them
  3. Curriculum and Assessment: Pilot schools have the freedom to structure their curriculum and assessment practices to best meet students’ learning needs. While acknowledging that all Pilot schools are expected to administer any state- and district- required test, these schools are given the flexibility to best determine the school-based curriculum and assessment practices that will prepare students for state and district assessments. This includes:
    Schools are freed from local district curriculum requirements
  4. Governance and Policies: Pilot schools have the freedom to create their own governance structure that has increased decision making powers over budget approval, principal selection and firing, and programs and policies, while being mindful of state requirements on school councils. This includes:
    The school’s governing council takes on increased governing responsibilities, including the following: principal selection, supervision, and firing, with final approval by the superintendent in all cases; budget approval; and setting of school policies.
    The school has flexibility to be freed from all district policies, and set its own policies that the school community feels will best help students to be successful
  5. School Calendar: Pilot schools have the freedom to set longer school days and calendar years for both students and faculty. Scheduling which allows for summer and school year faculty planning time contributes to a more unified school community and educational program. This includes:
    Increasing planning and professional development time for faculty
    Increasing learning time for students
    Organizing the school schedule in ways that maximize learning time for students and planning time for faculty.