A proposed charter school that would have emphasized the classic languages and arts was turned down by the William S. Hart High School Governing Board Wednesday night due largely to fears that it would be too religious.
Rabbi Mark Blazer of Temple Beth Ami is the organizer behind the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences. The school would teach Hebrew, but not religion, as well as the Latin, Greek and Arabic languages, which are not offered in any other district school.
Board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine recused herself from the vote. Board members Joe Messina and President Paul Strickland voted for the school, with Board members Steve Sturgeon and Bob Jensen voting against it.
According to their website, “The Academy will be non-sectarian in its admissions, programs, policies, employment practices, and all other operations, shall not charge tuition, and shall not discriminate against any student or staff member on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, or disability.”
Letters of support for the school from Congressman Buck McKeon and Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich were presented at the meeting, but to no avail.
Blazer told the district that school advisors will now appeal this decision to the County Board of Education. Even though he does not represent this area of the county, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky also sent a letter of support for the charter school.
Granting the Einstein Academy charter status would allow the school to share funding and provide free admission to any student that can be accommodated.
In addition to the charter school decision, the board members voted to hire the consulting firm RJ Gatti Associates to conduct a search for a replacement for Superintendent Jaime Castellanos, who told board members January 19 that he intended to retire effective June 30. They also considered hiring Vanir Construction Management to analyze the two sites for Castaic High School; if approved, Vanir would have advised which site was best and provided oversight for the construction of the school.
The board tabled that decision, because of concerns about Vanir’s previous involvement in new construction and modernization projects for the district in the last 10 years. Castellanos told KHTS that the decision was also delayed in part to hire geological and civil engineering firms that had not previously been employed by the district.