Los Angeles County Office of Education board members will have one more week to consider the appeal by Albert Einstein Academy Letters for the Arts and Sciences school officials, after the school’s executive director asked to postpone the hearing Tuesday.
The school is looking to charter a kindergarten-through-sixth-grade school through Los Angeles County, after several local districts denied the school’s charter petition.
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“There’s going to be a one-week continuance,” said Jeffrey Shapiro, executive director for the AELAS Foundation that operates Einstein’s seventh-grade-through-11th-grade charter. The school is planning to add a 12th grade next year.
Shapiro added that he was hopeful on the outcome of next week’s hearing.
County staffers recommended the board deny the petition, citing a number of factors.
County staffers cited several reasons for their denial recommendation, with the primary issue being that the legislative intent for charter schools is to improve the learning opportunities for all pupils, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for pupils who are identified as academically low achieving.
A county report cited Saugus Union School District scores as well above state and county averages.
A Saugus Union official said there was nothing wrong with AELAS officials wanting to rework a charter petition, but the sequence of submissions was costly for the district, and showed repeated problems.
“If there’s a sequence of denials, then somewhere along the lines, there needs to be a process in place that protects the school district,” said Judy Umeck, a Saugus Union school board member. “It is a costly process to adequately and responsibly vet the petition.”
A recent estimate by Saugus Union Superintendent Joan Lucid put the cost of vetting a petition in the tens of thousands of dollars each time a petition is submitted.
According to a report by county staffers in the recommendation for a denial:
“All Saugus USD schools meet or exceed the state’s Academic Performance Index (API) goal of 800. The district’s LEA-wide 2012 Growth API is 890, which surpasses the API target of 880 proposed in the charter petition. Saugus USD met API Growth Targets for all numerically significant student groups.
The petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program. Deficiencies include:
1. The petitioners are unfamiliar with the requirements of law that would apply to the proposed charter school including requirements pertaining to special education programs and services; English learners; attendance reporting; the hiring process related to criminal background checks; and charter renewal provisions.
2. The petitioners have presented an unrealistic financial and operational plan with respect to insurance lacking specific types of insurance and proposing inadequate coverage amounts for in other coverage.”
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