Officials with the Los Angeles County Office of Education denied an Einstein Academy request to set aside Saugus Union officials’ fourth rejection of the charter school’s petition for an elementary school within SUSD boundaries.
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LACOE board members voted 3-2 in favor of approving the charter school and setting aside the rejection; however, there are seven members on the board and there were not enough votes for a majority.
“Basically, the discussion was, ‘They qualified. They’ve done what they need to do — we have the recommendation, but charter law is intended for low-performing areas and Santa Clarita’s not a low-performing area,” said Jeffrey Shapiro, executive director for Einstein Academy.
“The biggest concern was that we don’t fit into the intent of the charter law because we’re opening in Santa Clarita and not in the inner city,” Shapiro said, adding that “the decision doesn’t have any real impact” on the school’s operations.
LACOE governing board members were considering a staff recommendation to approve the charter school and overturn the rejections by SUSD, according to the board’s agenda.
“For approval of the charter, a majority of the full board of (LACOE) is needed,” said Kostas Kalaitzides, spokesman for LACOE. “Thus, it is necessary for a motion to have at least four votes to pass, since the board is composed of seven members.”
A minimum of four members of a board are required for a quorum.
Albert Einstein Academy for the Letters, Arts and Sciences officials were still planning to open the Rye Canyon Road location on Sept. 9, Shapiro said.
“There were no doubts that they would do a good job with the school, but they wouldn’t offer anything more than Saugus Union was doing,” said SUSD Superintendent Joan Lucid.
“This is a high-performing district, and as such, our children do very, very well,” Lucid said. “(The vote) says to our community, and all our board members, ‘Yes, we did exactly what the law required us to do,’ and that we were in legal compliance with what we had done and that our board’s report was as thorough that it could be.”
Shapiro said the fact that the vote was in favor of overturning the rejections proved the opposite conclusion.
“The most important thing, the real reason that we wanted to do this is to show the validity of our petition because we have the staff’s recommendation,” Shapiro said. “It shows that (Saugus Union School District officials’) denials were illegitimate.”
SUSD board President Judy Umeck said she was gearing up for a new school year.
“The families, educators, the administrators and the board of the Saugus Union School District look forward to the start of the school year,” Umeck said, “and we will continue to be one of the top -performing school districts in the state of California.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News