La Jolla High School

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La Jolla High School
La Jolla High School logo.jpg
750 Nautilus Street

Coordinates32°49′59″N 117°16′23″W / 32.833°N 117.273°W / 32.833; -117.273Coordinates: 32°49′59″N 117°16′23″W / 32.833°N 117.273°W / 32.833; -117.273
TypePublic school
PrincipalDr. Chuck Podhorsky
Staff57.01 (FTE)[1]
Enrollment1,406 (2018-19)[1]
Student to teacher ratio24.66[1]

La Jolla High School (LJHS) is a comprehensive high school for grades 9–12 located in the La Jolla community of San Diego, California. Opened in 1922, La Jolla High School (LJHS) is the second-oldest campus in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). LJHS's 12-acre site has 14 permanent buildings. LJHS, one of the 16 high schools in the district, is located in La Jolla, a community of about 41,000 within the city limits of San Diego. The school, located south of downtown La Jolla, is surrounded by residential housing; private and public entities including the University of California, San Diego, Salk Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Scripps Health, Scripps Research Institute; and commercial properties with retail, financial and professional services. Modernization of the school has been funded through Proposition MM, The Foundation of La Jolla High School, the ongoing efforts of the PTA (PTSA), and other community partnerships.

In 2003, LJHS was named a California Distinguished School. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). As a result of the most recent 2016 visitation and self-study cycle, WASC granted LJHS a 6-year accreditation term[2]

In 2019, LJHS was ranked as the 1,139th high school in the United States and 173rd in California by Newsweek[3] and is also recognized as an Achievement via Individual Determination (AVID) School of Distinction. LJHS was the first public high school west of the Mississippi to earn a chapter in the Cum Laude Society.



  • Principal: Dr. Chuck Podhorsky[4]
  • Vice Principal: Cindy Ueckert[5]
  • Vice Principal: Joseph Cavaiola[6]
LJHS Genter.png


On its website, the LJHS PTSA promotes itself as "a not-for-profit organization and the nation's premier parent involvement group in schools. PTSA organizes and manages a variety of programs and services at La Jolla High. Our website and eBlasts keep parents informed, our mini-grants keep classrooms stocked with supplies, and our volunteers keep school events running smoothly." PTSA mini-grants are available to LJHS teachers who are PTSA members.

In 1997, former principal Dana Shelburne discontinued LJHS's controversial PTSA (then "PTA") Volunteer Hours program. The program, which was reportedly not put in writing until 1996, allowed PTA parents who volunteered over 75 hours to exercise specific control over their students' schedule and teachers. A PTA brochure said the program allowed parents to create a "dream schedule" for their child. The program was terminated following heavy criticism from parents whose students were enrolled in SDUSD's Voluntary Enrollment Exchange Program, a voluntary school busing program. Shelburne said that the program was shut down due to "the bookkeeping burden on the PTA and lack of benefit."[7]

The Foundation[edit]

The Foundation is the fundraising organization for LJHS. Funds raised by the Foundation have been used to fund full-time faculty positions, security cameras, robotics class equipment, technology, textbooks and fiction books, teachers' professional development conference registration, academic league and team competition fees, athletic facility improvements, athletic trainer, and coaching fees among others. The LJHS Foundation fulfills a complementary, but distinct, role from the PTSA by raising funds for high-priority programs that are not fully funded by the SDUSD, as determined by the administration, site governance, and academic department chairs.[8]

Site governance[edit]

The Site Governance team meets on the first Monday of each month. It consists of the following nineteen members: the principal; eight certificated staff representatives; one San Diego Education Association site representative; one classified representative; five parent representatives; one community representative; and two student representatives. Agenda items, which can be submitted by anyone, are turned in to the elected chair prior to the meeting. The role of the Governance Committee is to provide a forum for examination of issues relating to LJHS. The development, implementation, and evaluation of programs and policies of LJHS fall within the purview of the Governance Committee. The School Site Counsel meets after Site Governance, and some members are in both groups.



LJHS currently enrolls about 1,500 students[9] in grades 9-12, supported by 109 staff members (a principal, 2 vice principals, 67 credentialed teachers, 2 visiting community college professors, 4 counselors, a nurse, a psychologist, a librarian, a media tech, 6 custodial staff, a landscaper, and other support staff).

LJHS has two NBCTs (National Board Certified Teachers) in its English Department, and numerous AP (Advanced Placement) instructors in English, Computer Science, Social Science, and Science Departments who serve as Readers or Table Leaders for the annual AP Exams, which are designed by the College Board to measure student achievement in college-level classes and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). All LJHS teachers have a valid credential for the subjects they teach, and SDUSD has certified the site as 100 percent No Child Left Behind (NCLB) compliant.

Caucasian students make up a little more than half of the student population, and Hispanic students comprise the largest minority population.

LJHS is made up of 61% residential students and 39% nonresidential. Of the approximately 1,500 students currently enrolled at LJHS, 24% are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Various students are enrolled in Voluntary Ethnic Enrollment Plan (VEEP), CHOICE, Program Improvement School Choice (PISC), NCLB, and special education programs. LJHS does not receive any Title I funds.

Discipline, dropout and graduation rates[edit]

LJHS seniors line up for 2018 graduation in Big Gym

La Jolla High's suspension rate is low, at about 115 suspensions per year; some of these suspensions are accrued by the same students. The main reasons (about 50%) are due to minor disruptions in the classroom. The other 50% of suspensions include reasons such as fighting, alcohol/drug/tobacco possession and/or use, and stolen property.

The dropout rate is 0.2%.

Students graduating with UC "a-g" credits increased from 70.7% to 79.4% in 2013–2014, the most recent year recorded by SDUSD.[10] Class of 2016 students will be required to pass the "a-g" requirements for graduation.[11]

Assessment and testing[edit]

The most recent testing data is available on the California Department of Education website. The CST Standards Assessment and Reporting system was phased out in the 2014–15 school year and replaced with the new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASP). The CAASPs are summative assessments for all 11th graders in English Language Arts and Mathematics to measure their achievement in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). On La Jolla's 2018 performance on the CA School Dashboard, LJHS 11th graders scored 78.6 above the standard for Math and English Language arts, a 21.8 point increase from 2017.[12]

A more comprehensive breakdown of testing statistics related to English Language Learners, students receiving SpED services, socioeconomically disadvantaged students, and other subgroups can be found on the Mid-Cycle Review WASC document published on the LJHS website.[13]


All LJHS classes have a hard cap of 36 students per class. However, certain AP courses and other classes are filled above capacity.

The school offers a breadth of courses at a variety of academic levels.[14] These include:

  • 21 Advanced Placement courses
  • 6 college courses: Mesa College Political Science 101/102, Mesa College English 47A/101, Mesa College Math 150/151, Mesa College Math 254/245, Mesa College Business/Marketing 100, UCSD Extension Introduction to Sociology/Human Nutrition
  • AVID classes for 26 students
  • GATE services through cluster, honors, and AP courses
  • Seminar Program/Independent Studies
  • English Language Learner support
  • Literacy Advancement classes (Bridging English for students in need of remediation)
  • Special Education courses in math, reading and transition skills
  • Credit recovery through APEX for eleventh and twelfth grade students
  • iHigh credit recovery

LJHS also has a Seminar Humanities program. In 2015, the number of seminar-identified students in grades 9-12 was 234. The number of students enrolled in a seminar-identified class was 152. There are no seminar classes for 12th grade, as seniors are expected to take AP's or college-level classes such Political Science (offered through Mesa Community College) on the LJHS campus.

Each year, approximately 72% of LJHS students attend four-year universities, with a significant number of students attending Ivy League schools, out-of-state institutions, and the University of California and California State University systems, an additional 20% of students attend 2 year community colleges for a total of 92% seeking higher education right after graduation.

Beginning with the 2019–20 school year, LJHS, along with Muirlands Middle School and the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, is piloting a new late start program for the San Diego Unified School District, with first period at 8:35 am (rather than the previous 7:25 am), with the stated purpose of increasing attendance, test scores, and graduation rates. Muirlands Middle Principal Geof Martin has also stated that "In addition, healthy start times lead to decreased rates of emotional and behavioral problems, including anxiety and depression, along with corresponding increases in social, academic and athletic performance".[15]

All classes are expected to conform to the Schoolwide Student-Learner Outcomes (SSLOs):

  1. Students will demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills, and will be able to use technology when applicable.
  2. Students will develop the interpersonal skills necessary to work collaboratively, ethically, and effectively with others in order to be contributing members in a global society.
  3. Students will be able to demonstrate the higher order thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, application, and evaluation.
  4. Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the world's various viewpoints, belief systems, and cultures as well as American core values.

In 2013–2014, La Jolla High School did not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress criteria mandated under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), with an insufficient percentage of students proficient in Mathematics. LJHS did meet each of the other four criteria.[16]


2012 ACLU settlement[edit]

La Jolla High School Free Speech Board as of February 2, 2015.

On February 17, 2012, a former LJHS student represented by the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties agreed to a settlement with the San Diego Unified School District that required the district and LJHS to adopt stronger free speech protections for students. The settlement was precipitated by the whitewashing of student political messages from LJHS's so-called "senior benches" by former principal Dana Shelburne.

According to the ACLU chapter, the settlement includes an updated and constitutionally-sound free speech policy for all students in the San Diego Unified School District.[17]

2014 football concussion and lawsuit[edit]

La Jolla High School athletes conduct Physical Readiness Training in a four-day program hosted by the National Guard and National Football League in 2012.

In October 2014, La Jolla High School student Trey Enloe suffered a concussion in a Junior Varsity football game against Point Loma High School. Assistant coach Steven Wachs was suspended for the rest of the season following the incident, however, he said he was unaware of the player's concussion during the game. Former NFL player and LJHS Football Head Coach Jason Carter denied any knowledge of the incident. Carter told the Voice of San Diego (VOSD) that he "was present at the junior varsity game on Oct. 16, but didn’t see [the student] get injured." However, video footage obtained by VOSD through a Public Records Act request show Carter watching as the injured student was assessed.

VOSD reporter Mario Koran wrote that "Principal Chuck Podhorsky wouldn’t confirm whether the incident took place. The district said my inquiry was the first it had heard of the details of the incident." An internal email obtained by the VOSD revealed that Vice Principal Anne McCarty had notified all other administrators, including Principal Podhorsky, of the incident via email.[18]

According to his father, the student "now experiences a constant state of fogginess. He can’t read more than three lines at a time before a searing headache sets in ...[he] hasn’t formally withdrawn from school, his dad said, but his grades for the semester won’t count."[19]

In October 2015, the Enloe family filed suit against the San Diego Unified School District.[20]

2015 campus vandalism[edit]

Between Friday, February 20, 2015, and Saturday, February 21, 2015, LJHS was subject to campus-wide vandalism in the form of graffiti. In addition to graffiti that was graphic and sexual in nature, the San Diego Union Tribune reported that it was being pursued as a hate crime, in part because the words "White America" and a swastika were a part of the graffiti. The graffiti was found in various areas of the campus,[21] including on the Free Speech Bulletin Board.

News footage from San Diego CBS8 shows SDUSD employees removing student posters from the Free Speech Board indicated in the 2012 ACLU settlement in order to scrub explicit graffiti.[22]

2020 Martin Teachworth sexual abuse lawsuit[edit]

On February 27, 2020, four female graduates of LJHS filed a lawsuit against SDUSD and former high school physics teacher Martin Teachworth. The plaintiffs alleged that Teachworth had groped them and sexually harassed them while they were minors enrolled in his classes, that LJHS and SDUSD knew about complaints filed against Teachworth, and that LJHS administrators and SDUSD officials had engaged in a cover-up as to Teachworth's conduct. [23]

Notable alumni[edit]

Business and politics[edit]

Entertainment and media[edit]




  1. ^ a b c "La Jolla High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  2. ^ "Directory of Schools | Accrediting Commission for Schools Western Association of Schools and Colleges".
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Administration: Principal Dr. Chuck Podhorsky". La Jolla High School. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  5. ^ Sherman, Pat. "Meet La Jolla High's new vice-principal: Cindy Ueckert". La Jolla Light. San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. UT Community Press. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Vice Principal Joseph Cavaiola". La Jolla High School. San Diego Unified School District. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  7. ^ Generoli, Doug (25 September 1997). "The Demise of Privilege at La Jolla High". San Diego Reader. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  8. ^ "About". Foundation of LJHS. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  9. ^ "La Jolla High School Mid-Cycle Progress Report" (PDF). La Jolla High School. San Diego Unified School District. April 22, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  10. ^ "La Jolla High School - School Accountability Report Card" (PDF). Data Analysis and Reporting Department. San Diego Unified School District. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  11. ^ Maureen, Magee (2014-10-28). "New graduation standards are daunting". U-T San Diego. San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  12. ^ "San Diego Unified Detailed Data - California Accountability Model (CA Dept of Education)".
  13. ^ "LJHS Mid-Cycle Review 2015" (PDF). La Jolla High School. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  14. ^ "La Jolla High School Student Academic Handbook" (PDF). March 19, 2019. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  15. ^ Self, Zac (April 23, 2019). "Three San Diego schools to switch to later start times in 2019". ABC 10 News San Diego. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  16. ^ "La Jolla High School SARC Report 2013-2014" (PDF). San Diego Unified School District. SDUSD Data Analysis and Reporting. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  17. ^ "Settlement in La Jolla High Case Updates Free Speech Policy for All Students". Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  18. ^ "What LJHS Officials Knew About a Devastating Concussion (Hint: a Lot)". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  19. ^ "La Jolla High Football Coaches Point Fingers After Student's Brain Injury". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  20. ^ Alford, Abbie. "Family of La Jolla High School football player sues district over concussion". CBS8. WorldNow and Midwest Television, Inc. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  21. ^ "Graffiti at La Jolla High called hate crime". Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  22. ^ "Vandals graffiti La Jolla High School campus". Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  23. ^ McGlone, Ashly; Jimenez, Kayla (February 27, 2020). "Students Sue San Diego Unified, Teacher Over Groping Complaints". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  24. ^ a b c "LJHS Graduates Are Kind of a Big Deal". La Jolla, CA Patch. 2011-03-31. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  25. ^ Pfledderer, Sarah (May 16, 2017). "Coming home for collaboration". UC San Diego. Archived from the original on June 21, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  26. ^ "Warren Demartini".
  27. ^ Cowan, Jill (2019-01-29). "An Interview With Samin Nosrat: ‘I Identify as a Californian’". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  28. ^ "Bruce Robinson - Songwriter, Singer, Musician".
  29. ^ "Corey Pavin, Craig Stadler welcomed into SCGA Hall of Fame November 13, 2014". Southern California Golf Association. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2018.

External links[edit]