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  Home :: 2007 October :: L.A. Archdiocese to close Daniel Murphy High,0,3729886.story?coll=la-home-center

L.A. Archdiocese to close Daniel Murphy High

Closureof Daniel Murphy Catholic High in the Fairfax District will leave some177 students to be relocated. The archdiocese will consider what to dowith the site next year.
Officialscite financial pressure, in part because of settlements to victims ofpriest abuse, in the decision to shut down the Fairfax-area school.
By Sharon Bernstein and Jason Song, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
October 9, 2007
Citing financial constraints in part caused by its massive settlementwith victims of the priest sex-abuse scandal, the Los AngelesArchdiocese is closing Daniel Murphy Catholic High School, a boysacademy in the Fairfax District.

The school, built in the 1950s on the site of a former seminary, hasbeen losing enrollment for more than a decade, said archdiocesespokesman Tod Tamberg. He said it was too soon to speculate about whatmight replace the school at the 2 1/2 -acre site.
Murphy High: An article in Tuesday'sCalifornia section about the closing of Daniel Murphy Catholic HighSchool by the Los Angeles Archdiocese said the Queen of Angels schoolhad closed last year. It was shut down in 2002. —

The closure was the second blow to the venerable campus, which wasrocked last year when the former dean of students pleaded not guilty tonumerous counts of child molestation.

Still, parents and students were stunned by the decision, and praised the school as highly disciplined and culturally diverse.

"It's very sad to see it shut down," said parent Joseph Valerio, whose son, James, is a senior.

The archdiocese in July announced a record $660-million settlement withthe victims of hundreds of clergy abuse cases. At least $250 millionand up to $373 million of the total will be paid directly by thearchdiocese, with the rest coming from insurers and various religiousorders.

The archdiocese has said it will sell up to 50 non-parish properties,including its administrative headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard, tocover the bill. The most controversial move, so far, is the decision tosell a small convent in Santa Barbara, forcing several nuns to findother quarters.

The archdiocese decided to close the school at the end of the currentacademic year because the budget was so tight that administrators wouldhave had to cut back on curriculum in order to stay open, Tamberg said.

The archdiocese will consider what to do with the site some time nextyear, he said, and promised that all of the teachers and students wouldbe settled in new schools.

Parents, students and teachers got the bad news Friday, in the form of a letter from the archdiocese.

Most reacted with shock, said Rod Freer, whose son, Spencer, is a sophomore at the school.

Freer said his son called in the middle of the school day to tell him what was happening.

"He laid out the facts and told me how upset everybody was," saidFreer, who hopes to organize parents to fight the decision. "It wasquite a shock for all the students and the teachers."

A parent meeting is scheduled for tonight, Freer said, and he anticipates that the closure will be a major topic of discussion.

He said the family hopes to place Spencer at another Catholic school,but that most are more expensive than Daniel Murphy, which Tamberg ofthe archdiocese said cost $5,100 a year.

The archdiocese said Monday that officials would meet with the studentsand their parents, and offer financial aid to those whose tuition isgoing up.

All told, 177 students will need to move to other schools, according toTamberg, because the rest will graduate at the end of this year.

He said there is room at other schools, including St. Bernard, in Playadel Rey, which has also been in decline and has room for 400 students,and Salesian in Boyle Heights, which can accommodate 120 additionalstudents.

Junior Vincent Ramos, who made close friends during the three years hehas attended Daniel Murphy, said he was concerned that he would beplaced on a separate campus from his buddies.

"We're going to try to go to the same school, but who knows what will happen," he said.

This is not the first time the archdiocese has closed a school becauseof declining enrollment. Last year, the historic Queen of Angels campuswas closed after enrollment dropped to 147.

By then, the archdiocese had been forced to cut most clubs andelectives -- including music -- at the all-girls school, Tamberg said.

"I'd never seen anything that drastically cut at a Catholic highschool," said Tamberg, who taught in Catholic high schools in SouthernCalifornia and the Virgin Islands before taking up his post asspokesman for the archdiocese.

"Daniel Murphy was heading in that direction -- and we didn't want to do that."

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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia