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Year in review: Einstein still struggling for charter

Academy has turned to Board of Education for its elementary petition

Posted: January 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Ninth-grader Emily Ongele, 14, works on a two-point perspective drawing in an art class at the Albert Einstein Academy in Valencia.

After two years of attempts to get approval for an elementary school charter in the Santa Clarita Valley, the Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences has turned to the Los Angeles County Board of Education.

The Saugus Union School District denied Einstein Academy’s charter petition for the third time in October.

The first denial was appealed to the county, but Einstein officials pulled the appeal before it was fully processed. The second attempt was denied due to a concern over the application’s budget projections.

District board members raised those same financial concerns as reasoning for the third denial. Board members also questioned whether Einstein would be able to fulfill provisions necessary to receive a charter, such as offering and funding programs for English-learning or special-needs students.

The Saugus district, Newhall School District and Los Angeles Unified School District have all denied Einstein’s petitions for an elementary school charter over the last two years.

Officials from the Einstein Academy and the Saugus district appeared before the Board of Education on Dec. 11 to state their cases over the charter.

The board is expected to rule on Einstein’s appeal in February.

The appeal is the latest twist in what has been an eventful year for the Einstein Academy.

Though the academy’s attempts to open an elementary school in the Santa Clarita Valley have been stymied, the academy did have a kindergarten-12th grade charter approved by the Alpine Union School District in San Diego County in November.

Jeffrey Shapiro, the executive director of the Einstein Academy’s foundation, has said that charter was virtually identical to the one denied by the Saugus district.

And while Einstein’s attempts to expand its educational offerings in the Santa Clarita Valley have been unsuccessful, its current middle and high school seem set to stick around for a while. The William S. Hart Union High School District approved Einstein Academy’s charter in the district for an additional five years in January.

Einstein Academy also gained accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in February.

Einstein Academy completed the sale of $6.4 million in bonds to finance the construction of the Kelly Johnson Parkway facility housing that school in November.

In October, the state Department of Education reported that Einstein Academy posted a score of 910 on the Academic Performance Index, a statewide measure of standardized test scores.

Einstein’s score was the second-highest among high schools in the Hart district, trailing only behind fellow charter school Academy of the Canyons.



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