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NORWALK - Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District officials are pushing back against allegations this week that the district intends to close Excelsior High School and sell the property to real estate developers.
The allegations apparently erupted over the weekend as an online petition on change.org received more than 200 signatures in support of preserving and protecting the former high school turned adult school from demolition.
"These buildings are still used to house many critically needed adult and vocational education classes for our community," said former Assemblywoman Sally Havice, who voiced her concerns about the potential closure.
"Where are they going to help people to learn English, earn high school diplomas, train for a job or a better job," she asked. "It is wrong to allow a beautiful, useful facility to crumble and sell it [to] developers."
Havice, who is currently running for state Senate in the 32nd district, which includes Norwalk, posted her comments to Facebook last Sunday, encouraging residents to petition the school district.
However, district officials say there are no plans to sell or demolish Excelsior High School, located at 15711 Pioneer Blvd., which opened in the early twenties and celebrated its last graduating class in 1981.
"We've had no formal or informal discussions pertaining to the sale of Excelsior High School -- it's not even in the negotiation phase," said NLMUSD board member Darryl Adams.
Superintendent Ruth Perez likewise dismissed the claims, acknowledging the school campus holds a special place in the hearts of the residents including adult classes and pre-kindergarten programs.
"Excelsior is the pride and joy of the district," Perez said. "We'd never entertain the idea of selling it...the board has never considered it."
Nonetheless, supporters of the petition want the building declared a historical landmark in order to guarantee it will never be demolished.
"I know that schools and or buildings come and go, but when you have something as old and beautiful as Excelsior High School shouldn't we try to preserve this grand old lady," asked Joan McReynolds of La Habra who signed the petition. "You know they don't build them like this any more and if we don't do something, we can never get her back."