The city of Santa Clarita put a stop to the construction of an Einstein Academy elementary school, according to paperwork filed by city officials.
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The city issued a stop work order (Wednesday), due to unpermitted demolition and construction,” said Gail Ortiz, city spokeswoman.
“There was an incomplete application submitted by Einstein Academy, which was submitted to the city in June,” she said. “The application is incomplete and is currently not scheduled to come before the Planning Commission.”
Einstein Academy is seeking to operate a kindergarten to sixth-grade school at 25300 Rye Canyon Road, which is located near Avenue Scott in Valencia.
The location was chartered by Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District officials after Saugus Union School District officials denied a K-6 charter petition four times.
Einstein officials have asked the Los Angeles County Office of Education to set aside Saugus Union officials most recent rejection, which is expected to be reviewed at LACOE officials’ Aug. 6 meeting, according to county officials.
The stop-work order lists eight pages of items that need to be addressed before a permit may be issued.
“It’s incomplete because the traffic study is being conducted,” said Jeffrey Shapiro, executive director for Einstein Academy.
“Any time you go through this type of application process, you’re looking at documents that are part of a process that’s in progress,” Shapiro said.
The order cites the need for an independent, third-party parking study, drive approaches, a plan for a fire-alarm system and “full compliance with the California Building Codes,” according to city documents.
The site would need to obtain city permits before it could go before the Planning Commission, Ortiz said.
The next Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for Sept. 17.
“(City officials) have been transparent and open about the process,” said Castaic Union School District Superintendent Jim Gibson. “We’re clear that (city officials) are concerned about the state of the facility.”
Gibson has contacted the Los Angeles County Office of Education and the state’s Department of Education regarding an effort to stop the school, which he said did not contact the district before starting construction.
The state’s education code requires a charter school to give prior notice to a local school district when chartering school within its boundaries.
A letter sent by Gibson to the state Superintendent Tom Torlakson, alleges the school’s intended use of the Rye Canyon lot is in violation of Newhall Ranch’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions regarding land use.
“We’re in discussions with the city and keeping our authorizer informed to make sure we can meet the requirements that need to be met so we can open the school,” Shapiro said.
Gibson said he’s waiting to hear from county and state officials.
“The state is preparing a response,” Gibson said. “We’re planning to meet with the (county) superintendent next week to discuss our concerns.”
Part of Gibson’s concern is parents are taking their children out of their regularly enrolled schools in order to attend Einstein Academy, which may not be ready in time for the fall semester, Gibson said.
The Rye Canyon Road site is within Castaic Union School District boundaries, however students from any district in the Santa Clarita Valley may attend, according to the state’s education code.
On July 25, the city’s Development Review Committee sent documents addressed to Einstein Academy Executive Director Jeffrey Shapiro at a Stevenson Ranch address regarding the conditional-use permit for the property and its intended use for 650 students in grades K-12 and up 30 staff.
The first day of the school for the William S. Hart Union High School District and the Castaic Union School District is Aug. 15. The first day of school for the Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District is Sept. 3.
“For the last week or so, we’ve been discussing the school calendar internally,” Shapiro said, adding they expect to have one within the next 10 days.
Charter schools are not bound by the same calendar as the chartering district, however, the school is required to offer 180 days of instruction under state law.
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Source: Santa Clarita News