The school's buildings were originally a part of John Muir Junior College (not to be confused with John Muir College in San Diego, CA). The junior college merged with Pasadena City College, and the buildings were changed over to a two-year high school in 1955. (The senior students of the first graduating high-school class in 1955 were freshmen of the previous two-year junior college in the prior year.) It later increased to become a full four-year high school.
Prior to 1964, mostly Caucasian and Asian students from the communities of La Canada Flintridge, California joined the near equal mix of African-American, Hispanic and Asian students from the surrounding school area, and enrollment was nearly 3,000 students. In 1965, La Canada Flintridge, California built its own school system and removed their students. Shortly after that, the Pasadena City School District created Blair High School, siphoning off another large portion of the school's population.
Approximately 1300 students attend each year. The student body is made up of 42% Latino/Hispanic, 47% African-American, 9% are Caucasian, and 2% are "Other" (which includes 1.1% Asian/Pacific-Islander). It maintained a school wide average class size of 27 students and a pupil-to-teacher ratio of 21:1 for the 2002-03 school year, during which a total of 49 fully credentialed teachers were on staff.
John Muir High School is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
In 2000 a teacher, Cyrus Javaheri, pleaded guilty to engaging in group sex with minors. The teacher lured two students from the school in addition to another minor through the internet. Furthermore, numerous incidences of cyber sex were conducted between the teacher and various minors as young as 12.
Opinion was divisive with whites and blacks from the community on both sides. While some students and teachers defended that his assertion, that the majority of the underperforming students were black, was accurate others took offense to it. Subsequently he was placed on administrative leave but allowed to return to the school a few days later.
The cross-town rival school is Pasadena High School.
The two schools have an annual tradition in November called the Turkey Tussle, during which the two schools' football teams play a game at the Rose Bowl. The winning school takes possession of a ceremonial bell, which is rung at various events during the year in celebration.
The ceremonial bell was stolen at the end of the 2005 school year, and was found on February 7, 2006 near a road in the Angeles National Forest.
The school is located on Lincoln Avenue, which is a street named after the famous city, Lincoln, Nebraska, rather than the equally famous 16th President of the United States. Alma Mater
Years listed above in parentheses are the year of graduation.
Rodney King (1983) His incident with police led to the Los Angeles Riots and an overhaul of the LAPD
Sultan McCullough (1998) Running back for Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns
Fred Phelps (1951), head of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church.