By: Christy Rodriguez
Many seniors opt to take Service, a “free” period for students who have space in their schedule and have met, or are close to meeting, all of the A-G requirements. Currently at John F. Kennedy High School, students have the option between choosing the Main Office, Dean’s Office, Counseling Office, Health Office, Special Ed Office, Attendance Office, Title One Office, and the Clinic found near the ROTC room for their service assignment.
Although many students will find themselves working with another student/students during this period, some students will find themselves to be the only service student during that period. It all depends on the number of students who have been signed up for that specific period.
Typically, on a normal day, students will be assigned work to do by staff in the offices. Work includes taking out a summons, organizing and filing paperwork, assisting whoever comes in, answering questions, and other small random tasks. This all depends on the office one chooses to work in on the first day of school. On a calm day, many service students will usually be doing homework, reading a book, or listening to music when there is no work to do, which does happen fairly often.
Senior Olga Murillo, who assists in the Title One Office, stated, “[Service] For first period, it’s quite something different everyday. One day we will be doing posters, then decorating, or [sending] summons. Then another day will be nothing, or copying papers. It just depends on the day.” She also stated that service is much more of a learning experience, as “…we are learning about office work, like faxing or copying paper. Then, also learning how to properly answer a phone or greet a person.”
In terms of grading, it is graded like any other class with a mark of A-F. Students will also be graded on behavior by excellent, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory. Whether or not a service student does the work that is assigned to them, follows instructions, as well as how they behave to the staff and workers is reflected upon their grade for that term. However, there is no actual academic credit given to the student that completes service, according to Angelica Streif, the assistant principal here at Kennedy High School. Service generally takes place in both the fall and spring semester for about 40 weeks in total like a regular class, unless otherwise granted.
However, in recent years, Service has changed completely. While students now work in offices and are assigned tasks by staff and workers, students in the past were assigned to a classroom to do T.A. work. Service used to be a period where students were essentially the “teacher’s assistant” and actually did hands-on work in a teacher’s classroom.
Streif stated, “Students would want to T.A. instead of taking an art class they needed… [students] were not graduating because they were short on credits taking all these services [classes].”
An article written by the City Service News, outlined a “Class-Action Settlement,” was designed to protect LAUSD. Students and their parents had brought in a class-action lawsuit to LAUSD on behalf of losing valuable class time to “fake” classes. AB 1012, the settlement that had been brought on back in October of 2015, “…ends the practices in certain California under-performing high schools of assigning students to sham classes, garbage detail, mindless errands, and even dismissing students early, instead of enrollment in vigorous classes needed for graduation…”
According to the Los Angeles Unified School District Reference Guide, “This content reflects changes in policy accordance with AB 1012 passed on October 9, 2015, which states that students may not be assigned to courses without educational content without parental written consent and other prerequisites…” In addition, the guide also outlines that, “…every student should take advantage of a full schedule of courses… Service classes are not intended to fill vacancies in students’ schedules.”
Since these changes were brought on by LAUSD, students that choose to take service must now sign the Parent Authorization Form; this documentation is kept on file at the school site. Ever since 2015, Service has been taken much more seriously by LAUSD as a class with no academic rigor. While students were once able to T.A. in teachers’ classrooms years back, students are now assigned to different offices at Kennedy High School to do work in.