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History of San Diego Unified

During the 2004-05 school year, the San Diego Unified School District celebrated its 150th anniversary. Since its inauguration on July 1, 1854, the district has grown from a small rented school building with one teacher to its current state: more than 200 educational facilities with 14,500 full-time equivalent positions, representing more than 15,800 employees.

Many notable historic events have occurred throughout our 150-year duration, such as the 1977 Carlin v. Board of Education case, which prompted an enhanced racial integration plan for San Diego Unified. Over the years, our staff and teachers have made many significant accomplishments, such as the district's Teacher of the Year in 1990, Jan Gabay, who not only won the State Teacher of the Year Award, but was also the National Teacher of the Year.

Our mission is to improve student achievement by supporting teaching and learning in the classroom. This historical account of the last 150 years serves to showcase the district's hard work and dedication to educating our students, which is readily apparent in the daily lives and actions of our teachers, staff and San Diego community members.

Students voting in school

100 Years of Public Education in San Diego1954-2004

Notable moments and historic achievements fill the last fifty years of San Diego Unified, including massive school construction in the fifties, court cases in the sixties, the first Latino principal in the seventies, the first multi-track year-round schedules in the eighties, a teachers' strike in the nineties, and security concerns in the 21st century.

The First Hundred Years

In 1954, a commemorative publication was created to honor the first hundred years of San Diego's public education system. The book narrates district events starting with the founding of our first public school in 1850. Included are photos of the city's earliest school buildings as well as notable documents such as a salary voucher for the district's first teacher in 1854. The publication also includes changes made and challenges faced over the years while improving San Diego Unified.

View 100 years of Public Education in San Diego.

See also: From the San Diego History Center, Serving The City's Children: San Diego City Schools, The First Fifty Years (PDF Version)