Protest in Pasadena as Private Armenian High School Announces It Will Close, Citing Declining Enrollment as Cause

Published : Tuesday, October 29, 2019 | 4:59 AM

Students walked out of classes and joined parents, school faculty and employees protesting the closure of a Pasadena school Monday. But it wasn’t a PASADENA UNFIED public school. It was AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School, a private Armenian High School at 2495 E Mountain Street.

A group estimated to be several hundred gathered to demonstrate against the decision to close the school and consolidate it with the AGBU Canoga Park campus, known as the Manoogian High School, which is more than 35 miles away.

The unanimous decision from board members and officials to close the school was based on two factors and a benefit, an AGBU Central Board member said.

Arda Haratunian, AGBU Central Board member said the decision resulted from a combination of factors: Declining enrollment and increasing deficit. But, she said, there are the educational benefits of a combined campus.

The decision to merge campuses will affect about 110 ninth, tenth and 11th graders, Haratunian said. She said a letter went out to those impacted.

“After extensive consideration of a number of factors and, most importantly, thinking about the best interests of our students, we have decided to combine the AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School (MHS) with our sister AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School (MDS) on the Canoga Park campus at the end of this school year,” the letter communicated.

“We understand your initial concern upon receiving this news,” the statement continued. “Please rest assured that we are working diligently to ensure a smooth transition for your child.”

Haratunian said the letter was sent out in an effort to enable conversations on topics and to share that there were “numerous factors that led to this decision, including declining enrollment and increasing deficits,” and to assure parents could obtain information about tuition subsidies and transportation for students attending MDS.”

But parents are not happy. One parent said the entire school community showed up to protest. “We are fighting to keep it open,” she said.

AGBU has many chapters. It is a global organization that is 113 years old. The Pasadena Chapter is an entity comprised of the Manoukian Foundation, AGBU Central Board and Manoukian High School Board.

“It was a collective decision to combine the Pasadena campus with Canoga Park,” Haratunian said. “We completely understand the student disappointment.”

She added that the move would not take place until the end of the current school year and AGBU was expecting to hire teachers from the Pasadena Chapter at Canoga Park.

“We understand students are disappointed and upset, but our top priority is a smooth transition and make sure their education continues uninterrupted,” Haratunian said.

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