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Palisades Charter High School

Coordinates: 34°02′52″N 118°31′51″W / 34.047720°N 118.530918°W / 34.047720; -118.530918
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Palisades Charter High School
15777 Bowdoin Street

Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles

United States
Coordinates34°02′52″N 118°31′51″W / 34.047720°N 118.530918°W / 34.047720; -118.530918
TypePublic, charter
School districtLos Angeles Unified School District
NCES School ID060148804593[2]
PrincipalPamela Magee
Teaching staff127.59 (FTE)[2]
Enrollment2,959 (2022-23)[2]
Student to teacher ratio23.19[2]
Color(s)Royal blue, Columbia blue, and white[3]
Athletics conferenceCIF Los Angeles City Section
Western League

Palisades Charter High School (usually colloquially known as Pali or Pali High and abbreviated as PCHS) is an independent charter secondary school in Los Angeles, United States. The high school serves the neighborhoods of Pacific Palisades, Palisades Highlands, Kenter Canyon, and portions of Brentwood (including Brentwood Circle). Residents in Topanga, an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County, may attend Palisades or William Howard Taft Charter High School.[4][5]

The school serves grades 9 through 12. Formerly directly administered by the Los Angeles Unified School District, the school is now an independent charter school. Its current enrollment numbers 2,903 students. Many students travel long distances to attend Palisades Charter High, which is one of the most highly ranked public high schools in the Los Angeles area.

In 2005, Palisades was recognized as a California Distinguished School. In 2015, Palisades was named one of America's Best High Schools by Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report.[6]

Paul Revere Charter Middle School students are allowed to attend as a feeder school.



The school was founded in 1961.[1] It was built for $6 million on a filled-in canyon. At the time it was the most expensive high school in the LA City Schools. The founding principal was Herbert L. Aigner (died in 2000).[7] The Class of 2012 was the 50th graduating class.

Prior to the founding, the property was called All Hallows Farm and for many years was owned by the Conway family: Hollywood film director Jack Conway; his wife, actress Virginia Conway — daughter of silent screen star Francis X. Bushman — and their two sons, one of whom, Pat Conway became an actor as well. This property was subsequently rented to actress Debbie Reynolds and her husband, singer Eddie Fisher. It was then taken, some years later, by the State by eminent domain to build the high school.

Several members of the class of 1965 were profiled in a Time magazine article, which led to a best-selling 1976 book by class members David Wallechinsky and Michael Medved, What Really Happened to the Class of '65?[8] The book featured interviews with several members of the class, whose experiences were recounted both individually and in groupings around shared themes such as the Vietnam War and the draft, drug experimentation, and sex. Various teachers from the school also were interviewed, among them French teacher Mr. Fred Johnson, and English teachers Miss Jean O'Brien and Mrs. Rose "Mama G" Gilbert, who retired during 2012-2013 after 63 years of teaching.[9] At age 94, Mrs. Gilbert was the oldest active teacher in the LAUSD.[10][11] The Star Wars character of Maz Kanata was based on her.[12] The success of the book later inspired a short-lived television dramatic anthology series of the same title, which ran from December 1977 to July 1978 on NBC.[13]

In 1989 20/20 aired an episode about the students of Palisades High School. Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "Palisades High School is characterized here as both an institution of high academic performance and high drug and alcohol use. What 20/20 doesn't ask tonight is how both are possible at the same school."[14]

Circa 1992 there were so few students that LAUSD was considering closing the school. Pali High parents, principal Merle Price, and Pali High staff decided to advocate for making the school into a charter school.[15] In 1993 the school, along with three feeder elementary schools, received approval from the Los Angeles Board of Education to become a charter school. This was the first time a group of schools in California became charter schools.[16] The school asked students to abide by a behavior code and instituted new academic programs. By 1998 student enrollment recovered: it had 200 students previously attending private schools.[15]

This school was the focus of a false email chain letter started around 2002. The message falsely claimed that a satiric message to parents about student truancies and homework problems was actually on the school's answering machine. The message was originally written in response to parent outrage that students who skipped class more than ten days per 90-schoolday semester (not counting legitimate absences, like sickness) could receive a failing grade in that class. This was reported on several websites, including Snopes,[17] and BreakTheChain.org.[18]



The campus is bounded by Temescal Canyon Road to the east, Sunset Boulevard to the north, El Medio Street to the west, and Temescal Academy (formerly known as first Temescal Canyon Continuation School and later Temescal High School) to the south.[19] It is bisected by Bowdoin Street, which runs between the school's football field and the academic center of the school. Located only a mile from Will Rogers State Beach, the football stadium is called "Stadium by the Sea."[20]

On April 25, 2021, the music video for Olivia Rodrigo's song "Good 4 U" was filmed at Palisades, directed by Petra Collins.[21] The song later debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

As of 2010, approximately 43% of the student body, 1,180 out of 2,742 students, were bused to Palisades Charter High School from more than 100 Los Angeles zip codes.[22] In 1994, approximately 70% of the student body, 1,176 out of 1,680 students, were bused from South-Central and East Los Angeles.[23]


White Latino African American Asian Nepali Pacific Islander American Indian Two or more races
51% 24% 15% 9% 2% 1% 1% 1%

According to U.S. News & World Report, 49% of Palisades Charter's student body is "of color," with 32% of the student body coming from an economically disadvantaged household, determined by student eligibility for California's reduced-price meal program.[24]



As of 1998, most of the school's classes were university preparatory in nature. It hosts a mathematics, science, and technology magnet program. The school also has humanities and marine biology courses.[15]

The school includes a New Media Academy that was, as of 1998, one of three in LAUSD. Pali High uses its charter school status to increase the visibility of this program. By that year DreamWorks had financed it with $100,000. The location fees generated by Aaron Spelling's use of the school for Malibu Shores were used to, by 1998, install a new computer lab.[15]

As of 2002, Palisades High School offered a surfing class that can be taken for physical education credit. It was established around 1998 by Ray Millette, a marine biology teacher and surfer.[25]

Palisades Charter High School is known for its music program. Its marching band has medaled three years in a row at the SCSBOA championships: in 2013 winning silver, in 2014 winning gold for 3A, and in 2015 winning bronze. The school also has a winter drumline that competes in both SCPA and WGI, and is also the 2016 SCPA "A class" silver medalist.

Discrimination and lawsuits


In 2016, extensive hate graffiti was found at the campus including references to the Ku Klux Klan, Jews, African-Americans, and LGBTQ people.[26]

In June 2017, Palisades Charter High School gained national media attention after an African-American student was depicted in a student blog with a noose drawn around her neck.[27]

In December 2021, following a false school shooting threat targeting Pali as well as other schools in the area, extensive graffiti was discovered on the campus. Among other things, messages proclaiming "Black Lives Matter" and "Kill the Dean" were spray-painted, along an anarchy symbol and symbols of other extremist political movements.[28]

Notable alumni

Dane Elkins
Susanna Hoffs
Steve Kerr
Jon Moscot
Thomas Newman
Katey Sagal
Mitchell Schwartz
Alan Smolinisky
Forest Whitaker

Sending schools


As some LAUSD zoned high schools do not have enough space to educate all residents in their attendance boundaries, some schools send excess students to Palisades.[5]

They were, as of spring 2007:


  1. ^ a b "LAUSD School Profile Page". Retrieved January 21, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d "Search for Public Schools - Palisades Charter High (060148804593)". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved July 21, 2024.
  3. ^ "School Description". Campus. Retrieved July 8, 2006. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). www.palihigh.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 13, 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b Max Taves, "Enrollment Demands May Force a Lottery at PaliHi." Palisadian-Post. February 14, 2007. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  6. ^ "Results + Recognition - Palisades Charter High School". www.palihigh.org. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  7. ^ "Herbert Aigner; Palisades High Founding Principal" (Obituary). Los Angeles Times/ January 25, 2000. Retrieved on March 29, 2014.
  8. ^ Tevi Troy. "Right Read: Michael Medved engages and explains," National Review, February 9, 2005.
  9. ^ "Sassy 94-Year-Old Teacher Is Finally Calling It Quits". Huffington Post. March 1, 2013. Archived from the original on March 3, 2013.
  10. ^ "At 88, she's a millionaire — and keeps teaching". NBC News. March 13, 2007. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  11. ^ Martha Groves and Louis Sahagun, "Rose Gilbert dies at 95; revered Palisades High English teacher", Los Angeles Times, December 17, 2013.
  12. ^ Frances Sharpe. "'Star Wars' Character Based on Late Pali High English Teacher, Abrams Tells Palisadian-Post". Palisadian Post. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  13. ^ Michael Peck. "Televisionary" (Q&A column), June 28, 2005.
  14. ^ "TV REVIEW : '20/20' Takes a Look at Palisades High School." Los Angeles Times. April 21, 1989. Retrieved on March 29, 2014.
  15. ^ a b c d Hardy, Terry. "Top of the Class" (education section). Los Angeles Magazine. Emmis Communications, October 1998. Vol. 43, No. 10. ISSN 1522-9149. Start: p. 52. CITED: p. 66.
  16. ^ Chavez, Stephanie. "Palisades Schools Get OK for Charter Status : Reform: Program at four campuses is an attempt to raise student achievement standards. It will be watched as a model of how school clusters work." Los Angeles Times. June 29, 1993. Retrieved on March 29, 2014.
  17. ^ snopes (June 7, 2015). "Pacific Palisades High School Answering Machine Message". snopes. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  18. ^ "Palisades High School's Answering Machine". BreakTheChain.org. Archived from the original on October 15, 2011. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  19. ^ Danielle Gillespie, Palisadian-Post. "Temescal Academy Is Under Way". Retrieved April 22, 2010.
  20. ^ "Records Set at YMCA Track Meet". Palisadian-Post. June 17, 2004. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
  21. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Olivia Rodrigo - good 4 u (Behind The Scenes)". YouTube.
  22. ^ "Pacific Palisades -- Palisades-Post". Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  23. ^ Chastang, Carol; Seo, Diane (June 19, 1994). "WESTSIDE COVER STORY : Driven to Learn : Minority Students Endure Long Days to Be Bused to Westside Schools, but Sometimes They Get Blamed for Campus Problems". Los Angeles Times.
  24. ^ "Westmoor High School". usnews.com. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  25. ^ Weiss, Kenneth R. (January 19, 2002). "A Class That Trades Gym Shorts for Wetsuits". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  26. ^ Veronica Rocha, Los Angeles Times. "Extensive hate graffiti found on high school in Pacific Palisades Outrage". Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  27. ^ Staff, KTLA. "Noose Drawing on African-American Student Sparks Outrage". Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  28. ^ Emily Rahhal, Patch Staff. "Police Respond To Threat At Palisades High School". Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  29. ^ a b Groves, Martha (May 13, 2007). "Love of writing and students fires her up". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 3, 2023.
  30. ^ "Scott Alexander". archive.is. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2009.
  31. ^ Marc Weingarten (August 16, 2005). "Trying to connect". Los Angeles Times.
  32. ^ Kelsey Leach (December 8, 2018). "Wonderful Strangeness: An Interview with Karen E. Bender". The Fourth River.
  33. ^ "retrieved April 18, 2009". Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  34. ^ "Brentwood Ca Junior Racquetball Team Wins 4 gold at National Singles Championships". Brentwood, CA Patch. June 3, 2014. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  35. ^ 1979 Palisades High School Yearbook
  36. ^ "Palisades Father's Dramatic Story Drives Home Risks of Teen Drinking". Los Angeles Times. December 13, 1988.
  37. ^ Thomas, Bob (April 17, 1964). "Rusty Hamer Is Worried About Obscurity at 17". Reading Eagle. Reading, Pennsylvania. p. 13. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  38. ^ Christopher Shea (September 28, 2009). "Michael Sandel Wants to Talk to You About Justice". Chronicle.com. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  39. ^ "Home". Palisadian Post. August 3, 2023. Archived from the original on April 26, 2012.
  40. ^ "Geoff Schwartz – Stats | Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on August 14, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  41. ^ "Mitchell Schwartz – Stats | Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on August 14, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  42. ^ "retrieved November 04, 2014". Archived from the original on November 5, 2014.
  43. ^ "Plummer, Smolinisky join Dodgers' ownership". Dodgers.com. September 19, 2019.
  44. ^ Odd Future's Sud tha Kyd talks music identity and the Internet Archived September 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. massapeal.com. p. 1.

Additional references