Pasadena school district officials, following the lead of a Santa Clarita Valley school district, is suing the Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District over charter school approvals, Pasadena Unified officials said Wednesday.
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“We want to make sure that families considering enrolling their children at SCALE Academy know that the school is being sued,” said Scott Phelps, PUSD school board president. “There is a real possibility that SCALE Academy will be shut down by the court for illegally operating outside of AADUSD and within Pasadena Unified boundaries.”
An Acton Agua Dulce Unified official did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
The school flatly denied any wrongdoing in a statement from Lawrence Wynder, director for SCALE Academy.
“SCALE rejects any assertion by the Pasadena Unified School District (“PUSD”) that Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District (AADUSD) Board of Education and SCALE Academy have violated any provisions of the Charter School Act,” Wynder said. “While we are not aware of any lawsuit at this time, SCALE is confident that any lawsuit by PUSD to seek an order to prevent SCALE from opening will be unmeritorious.”
The district never contacted SCALE, Wynder said.
The embattled AADUSD has struggled with financial difficulties, as well as being named in two lawsuits and, perhaps more significantly, targeted by legislation in recent months.
As a result of the district’s negative financial certification, Los Angeles County Office of Education officials stepped in to provide fiscal guidance with a Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team.
One of the county’s first moves was to put a stay on charter school approvals, citing “fiscal solvency issues.”
LACOE appointed Dick Douglas as a financial adviser June 1 for AADUSD, in a May 30 letter to district board President Mark Distaso.
As part of the review of Douglas and a Financial Crisis and Management Assistance Team, a hold was ordered on the approval of charters for: Method Schools K-8 charter petition; Method Schools 9-12 charter petition; Renaissance Collegiate Academy charter petition; Renaissance Collegiate High School charter petition; and iLead Innovations Studios charter petition. Weeks later, two additional charter school approvals were also put on hold.
More recently, a bill was aimed at AADUSD’s numerous attempts to locate a charter school outside the physical boundaries of the district.
Opponents of the bill claim the point of charter school law is to allow districts to operate schools outside of their boundaries, while those in favor say the bill restores local control to local districts, which is a right expressly granted in the state’s constitution.
“The district is challenging the actions of the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District, which has approved over 20 charter schools to operate outside the AADUSD boundaries, in violation of the intent and letter of California’s 1992 Charter Schools Act,” according to a PUSD statement. “The district further challenges the actions of the SCALE Academy charter school (SCALE Academy) to locate within the Pasadena Unified School District boundaries.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News