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Pasadena Unified School District
351 South Hudson Avenue
, California, 91101-3507
United States
Coordinates34°8′23″N 118°8′4″W / 34.13972°N 118.13444°W / 34.13972; -118.13444 (District office)
District information
GradesPre-K through 12
Established1874; 149 years ago (1874)
PresidentElizabeth Pomeroy
Vice-presidentMichele Richardson Bailey
SuperintendentDr. Brian McDonald
Asst. superintendent(s)Dr. Cy Chukwumezie
Julianne Reynoso
Eric Sahakian
Marisa Sarian
Business administratorEva Lueck (interim)
School board7 members
Governing agencyCity of Pasadena
Accreditation(s)Western Association
NCES District ID0629940[1]
Students and staff
Students18,410 (2016-2017)[1]
Teachers704.98 (FTE) (2016-2017)[1]
Staff1,246.82 (FTE) (2016-2017)[1]
Student–teacher ratio26.11 (2016-2017)[1]
Athletic conferenceCIF Southern Section
Other information
Areas servedPasadena, Altadena, Sierra Madre

The Pasadena Unified School District is a unified school district that is responsible for the schools of Pasadena, California. As of 2014, it has four high schools, five middle schools, three K–8 schools and 15 K–5 elementary schools.[2] The number of elementary schools was reduced from 18 at the end of the 2010–11 school year.[3]

The district includes most of Pasadena, most of Sierra Madre, Altadena, San Pasqual, most of East Pasadena, and a portion of East San Gabriel.[4] Its area is 76 square miles (200 km2).[5]

PUSD is run by a board of education, whose members serve four-year terms. Duties of the board include budgeting, approving expenditures, establishing policy, making employment decisions, approving textbooks and courses of study, and approving academic initiatives. As of June 2012, PUSD's at-large board districts became geographic subdistricts. As of December 12, 2022, the members of the PUSD Board of Education are Kimberly Kenne (District 1), Jennifer Hall Lee (District 2), Michelle Richardson Bailey (District 3), Patrick Cahalan (District 4), Patrice Marshall McKenzie (District 5), Tina Wu Fredericks (District 6) and Yarma Velázquez (District 7).[6]


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In its early history, Pasadena had some of the highest performing schools in the state, largely due to a strong affiliation with the California Institute of Technology. Two schools in the area, Noyes Elementary (now closed) and Hale Elementary (now Norma Coombs Elementary School), were named after Caltech professors.

In January 1970, as supplemented in March 1970, desegregation busing was ordered in the district after the federal court ordered desegregation of the public schools in Pasadena.[7][8] This was a result of the city demographics of the time, which resulted in a "de facto" segregation, with a large proportion of the African American population attending schools in the northwest area of the city (which was largely African American), and the white students attending schools in the east and southern parts.

Before the busing plan was implemented in September 1970, the proportion of white students in public schools reflected the proportion of whites in the community (54 percent and 53 percent, respectively). Shortly after busing began, a significant segment of upper- and middle-class families that could afford private schooling pulled their children out of the public school system. The result was a boom of private schooling available in the city, and a reduction of state funding for Pasadena public schools as enrollment was reduced.

The PUSD also hosted an "alternative" school in the early 1970s: the Evening High School. First envisioned for students that had to work during the daytime to support their families, the school was quickly populated with students who were disenchanted with the schooling experience at other Pasadena High Schools such as Pasadena High, Muir and Blair. Evening High was located on the campus of Blair High and operated in the evening hours between 4 and 9. Paul Finot was the man behind the idea that originated from his time in POW camps during the Korean War. A group of people need to self-organize to succeed. Finot transformed his experience in the camps into a high school environment where every student was encouraged to govern their school and environment.

In 2002, Superintendent Percy Clark reduced the number of students bused in the district and expanded a policy of neighborhood schools.[citation needed]

By 2004 Pasadena was home to sixty-three private schools, which educated one-third of all school-aged children in the city, and the proportion of white students in the public schools had fallen to 16 percent. One current (as of 2014) board member, Renatta Cooper, has stated that Pasadena has more private schools per capita than any city its size in the United States.[9]

By 2006, Allendale, Edison, Linda Vista, and Noyes elementary schools closed in 2008, such as Edison Elementary is now replaced with Focus Point Academy, a Special Education school, while Allendale was used as a temporary site for Blair IB Magnet Middle School students while the new middle school campus was under construction.

For the 2009–2010 school year, Pasadena Unified mounted a drive to stop interdistrict transfers out of the district. This was mainly directed at children entering kindergarten, first, seventh, and ninth grades, citing these as "transition" years. They included first grade as a transition year because kindergarten is not required by the State of California.

For the 2011-2012 school year, Blair International Baccalaureate School opened a new middle school campus.

By the start of the 2015–2016 school year, Sierra Madre Middle School opened a brand new campus, which will increase the number of middle schools to four, and Don Benito Fundamental and Norma Coombs Alternative Schools will now become neighborhood elementary schools, while Field Elementary becomes a Mandarin DLIP (Dual Language Immersion Program) and San Rafael Elementary become a Spanish Dual Language Immersion Program.[needs update]

Starting in 2013, school board members will be elected by geographical districts, which replaces a seat number and at large, with the primary/runoff format, similar to the Pasadena City Council, there are seven geographical districts, Districts 1, 3, 5, and 7 starting with the 2013 elections, while Districts 2, 4, and 6 starting with the 2015 elections, thanks to a ballot measure passage by the voters during the 2012 California Primary election.[needs update] Voters in the Pasadena Unified School District voted during the June 2018 election to extend the terms of the seven School Board members to an additional 19 months, with Districts 2, 4 and 6 effective with the November 2020 election and Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7 with the November 2022 election. The elections are replaced with the plurality format instead of the primary/runoff format effective in November 2020.

Starting in 2015–16 school year, high school attendance boundaries had changes: Blair International Baccalaureate School is serving downtown and southwest Pasadena, while John Muir High School is serving northwest Pasadena and the Linda Vista neighborhood as well as the western portion of Altadena, and Pasadena High School is serving the eastern portion of Altadena, Sierra Madre, as well as the central, eastern, and southeastern portions of Pasadena.[needs update]

In 2012, the district was the subject a 90-minute documentary film titled Go Public. The documentary was filmed by 50 crews following the stories of various people in 28 schools for one day, intended to portray the positive and negative realities in a moderate-sized public education system.[10]

Elementary schools

  1. Altadena Elementary School
  2. Don Benito Fundamental School
  3. Field Elementary School (offers Mandarin Dual Language Immersion Program)
  4. Hamilton Elementary School[11]
  5. Jackson Elementary School
  6. Longfellow Elementary School
  7. Madison Elementary School
  8. McKinley School (K-8)
  9. Norma Coombs Alternative School
  10. San Rafael Elementary School (offers Spanish Dual Language Immersion Program)
  11. Sierra Madre Elementary School (K-5)
  12. Washington Accelerated Elementary
  13. Webster Elementary School
  14. Willard Elementary School (offers International Baccalaureate Program)

Closed elementary schools

  1. Audubon Primary School (1989)
  2. Allendale Elementary School (2006)
  3. Edison Elementary School (2006)
  4. Linda Vista Elementary School (2006)
  5. Noyes Elementary School (2006)
  6. Burbank Elementary School (2011)
  7. Loma Alta Elementary School (2011)
  8. Cleveland Elementary School (2019)
  9. Franklin Elementary School (2019)
  10. Jefferson Elementary School (2019)
  11. Roosevelt Elementary School (2019)

In November 2010 the PUSD board voted to close Burbank Elementary School and Loma Alta Elementary School in the Altadena area.[12] In 2011 PUSD discussed the possibility of relocating a special-needs preschool and several nonprofit organizations to the Burbank campus.[13]

Middle schools

  1. Blair Middle School — Zoned - grades 6-8
  2. Charles W. Eliot Middle School - Zoned — grades 6-8
  3. Octavia Butler Middle School- Zoned - grades 6-8
  4. Sierra Madre Middle School - zoned - grades 6-8

In 2019, the Pasadena Board of Education voted 4-3 to close Woodrow Wilson Middle School at the end of the 2019-20 school year. In 2022, Washington Middle School was renamed as Octavia Butler Middle School.

High schools

  1. John Muir High School — Zoned, grades 9-12
  2. Pasadena High School — Zoned, grades 9-12
  3. Rose City High School — Continuation High School
  4. Center for Independent Study - Independent Studies

6-12 schools

  1. Marshall Fundamental Secondary School — Alternative, grades 6-12 (middle and high school)
  2. Blair International Baccalaureate School — Zoned, grades 6-12

Enrollment and staffing

In the 2009–2010 school year PUSD served 20,084 students, a drop of approximately 14% since the 2000–2001 school year, when enrollment during the past fifteen years peaked at 23,559 students.[14] As of the 2013–2014 school year, enrollment had dropped to 19,102 students.[14] As of the 2009–2010 school year, PUSD employed 1,154 certificated staff,[15] 1,027 of which were teachers.[16][17] In 2009–2010, the district also employed 1,307 classified personnel, 955 of which were full-time, 352 part-time.[16][18]


Every PUSD elementary student receives daily instruction in English Language Arts using the Balanced Literacy for language arts program. Middle and high schools use the Holt Literature and Language Arts curriculum. The PUSD Math curriculum is based on California's mathematics framework which includes the Houghton Mifflin Mathematics curriculum for elementary schools and additional college-prep classes beginning in eighth grade. Curricular focus is also placed on History, Math, Social Studies, Science, Foreign language, Art and Music, and Physical Education.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Search for Public School Districts – District Detail for Pasadena Unified". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  2. ^ "PUSD Schools". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  3. ^ "PUSD Board of Education votes to close 2 elementary schools". Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  4. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: Los Angeles County, CA" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. pp. 6, 10-11 (PDF p. 7, 11-12/19). Retrieved April 7, 2023.
  5. ^ "PUSD Our Community". Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  6. ^ "PUSD Board Members". Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  7. ^ "Spangler v. Pasadena City Board of Education, 311 F. Supp.501 (C.D. Cal. 1970)". Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  8. ^ Gray, Julie Salley. "To Fight the Good Fight: The Battle Over Control of the Pasadena City Schools, 1969-1979". Retrieved May 17, 2014. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Poulisse, Adam. "Pasadena's history of racism trickles into present, residents say". Retrieved May 17, 2014. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ "Go Public Mission". Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  11. ^ "Hamilton Elementary School / Homepage". Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  12. ^ Charles, Brian (November 16, 2010). "PUSD votes to close Loma Alta, Burbank schools in Altadena". Pasadena Star-News. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  13. ^ Abendschein, Dan (June 29, 2011). "The Future of the Burbank Elementary Campus". The Altadena Patch. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Enrollment over time - DataQuest(CA Dept. of Education)". Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  15. ^ Rothenbaum, Donna. "- Certificated Staff by Ethnicity for 2009-10". Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  16. ^ a b "PUSD At-a-glance". Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  17. ^ Rothenbaum, Donna. "- Certificated Staff by Ethnicity for 2009-10". Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  18. ^ "Classified Staff - DataQuest (CA Dept of Education)". Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  19. ^ "PUSD Core Curriculum". Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2017.