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UPDATE: Construction halted on Einstein elementary school

Adds comment from Einstein

Posted: August 1, 2013 4:55 p.m.
Updated: August 1, 2013 9:19 a.m.

The exterior of the location for the Santa Clarita Valley elementary school run by the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences. The city of Santa Clarita recently ordered all construction work be stopped on the property, citing a lack of proper permits. Signal photo by Jonathan Pobre.

Santa Clarita city officials have ordered construction work halted on the long-awaited Santa Clarita Valley elementary school for the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences, saying the school failed to obtain necessary permits.

Santa Clarita issued a stop work order Wednesday for the elementary school site at 25300 Rye Canyon Road due to lack of proper permits for the demolition and construction work, according to city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz.

“Einstein has been told that in order to get the stop work order lifted, they need to get various permits from the city,” Ortiz said Thursday.

The order is the second of two city decisions that could delay the opening of the Einstein elementary school, which was slated to open Aug. 21.

The city determined in July that Einstein’s application for a conditional use permit to operate a public charter school at the Rye Canyon Road location was incomplete, according to Ortiz.

The school will not be able to open without that permit, according to Castaic Union School District Superintendent Jim Gibson.

“My main concern is that the building is unsafe and not suitable for an education environment,” Gibson said.

The conditional use permit was deemed incomplete in a Development Review Committee document dated July 25, according to records obtained by The Signal.

“Now the real issue is, regardless of what the city told them, they (Einstein officials) went forward and started constructing inside the building secretly,” Gibson said.

Even if that application was deemed to be complete, it would have to be considered and approved by the Santa Clarita Planning Commission, which is on hiatus until Sept. 17, according to Ortiz.

The Einstein application is not currently on the commission’s calendar, Ortiz said.

Einstein’s elementary school was chartered through the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District after years of seeking a charter from schools elsewhere, including the Santa Clarita Valley. But the Rye Canyon Road property slated to house it is located within the boundaries of the Castaic district.

Castaic district officials have filed official protests against the Einstein Academy with both the Los Angeles County Office of Education and the state Board of Education, alleging that Einstein failed to properly notify them of the elementary school’s location — a violation of state law.

Jeffrey Shapiro, the executive director of the Einstein Academy’s foundation, did not respond to a call or an email requesting comment Thursday.

post on the website for the Einstein Academy elementary school attributed to Shapiro says the school's expected opening date is Sept. 9.

"With the new first day of school set for Sept. 9, we expect to open with a beautiful facility," the post reads. "Know that we are also prepared that in the unlikely case that circumstances necessitate, we will conduct classes in an alternate temporary space until our state of the art facility is ready."

The post also attributes the delay in the school's opening, at least in part, to local school districts not wanting charter schools in the Santa Clarita Valley.

"Rather than use the fact that 2,500 families have decided to seek an Einstein education to serve as a wakeup call, they have chosen to demonize us, our authorizers and anyone who supports choice in education," the post reads. "I wish I could say the efforts to scare parents will discontinue but it is possible they will do whatever they can to disrupt the desires of the families of Santa Clarita." 

"Just know – they will not succeed."
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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