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Pasadena Unified files lawsuit against Acton-Agua Dulce

Posted: August 11, 2014 3:02 p.m.
Updated: August 11, 2014 3:02 p.m.

The Pasadena Unified School District has become the latest to file a lawsuit against the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District alleging the smaller district improperly approved a charter school outside of its boundaries.

The latest suit, filed last week, alleges that Acton-Agua Dulce’s approval of a charter school within the boundaries of the Pasadena Unified School District violated charter law.

The Pasadena district challenges the actions of the charter school, called SCALE Academy, to locate within the boundaries of the Pasadena district.

“We want to make sure that families considering enrolling their children at SCALE Academy know that the school is being sued,” said Pasadena district board President Scott Phelps in a statement announcing the suit.

“There is a real possibility that SCALE Academy will be shut down by the court for illegally operating outside of (Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District) and within Pasadena Unified boundaries,” Phelps said.

The suit claims that the Acton-Agua Dulce board has approved more than 20 charter schools to operate outside of its boundaries and that the board approved the SCALE Academy charter as a means to generate revenue to address the fiscal instability in the Acton-Agua Dulce district.

“The lawsuit is not an attempt to prevent charter schools in the Pasadena Unified School District, but to ensure that local charter schools are authorized in compliance with law and operate in concert with local school districts to the benefit of our local communities,” said Sue Ann Evans, counsel for the district. “The district recognizes that charter schools can play an important role in the community, but they best complement the services of local school districts when they are formed and operate in conjunction with a local school district.”

Both the Newhall School District and the Los Angeles Unified School District have also hit Acton-Agua Dulce with lawsuits containing similar allegations.

“The courts recognize that local school districts have sovereignty over public education within their boundaries in order to best serve the needs of their unique communities,” reads the news release from the Pasadena district announcing the suit.

“In allowing charter schools to locate in any community in Southern California without any input or oversight by the local district and community, the actions of (the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District) Board of Education are out of step with this directive, and the law.

“This lawsuit seeks to re-establish local school district authority over delivery of education to the benefit of their respective local communities,” the release continues.

Acton-Agua Dulce district Superintendent Brent Woodard said Saturday that the district had yet to be served with the suit and, as he had not seen it, he could not comment on it.

Current state law allows charter schools to locate and function outside the boundaries of their chartering district if they meet certain criteria.

But a bill sponsored by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, would change California’s charter school law by blocking schools from locating outside the district that charters them.

That bill has passed the state Senate but is still awaiting review in the Assembly.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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