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Bill to restrict charter school location passes Assembly

Posted: August 26, 2014 4:43 p.m.
Updated: August 26, 2014 4:43 p.m.

A bill that would impose restrictions on charter schools seeking to locate outside the boundaries of the district that charters them passed the state Assembly Tuesday, according to officials.

Senate Bill 1263, from state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, is now scheduled to go back to the state Senate for a concurrence vote, officials said.

“This bill gives charter school families assurance that their local school districts will provide oversight, accountability and support, just like with all other public schools,” Pavley said Tuesday. “It closes a loophole that has been exploited to the detriment of legitimate charter schools.”

Santa Clarita Valley school officials were among those that had pushed for the bill.

But one Santa Clarita Valley legislator decried the bill as a “full frontal assault” on a local charter school.

Pavley’s bill would authorize a charter school to locate outside its authorizing district on condition the school receives approval from the district it seeks to operate in.

The bill would continue the ability of charter schools to temporarily locate outside their chartering district for 18 months for purposes of construction, and for a longer period of time if the charter receives permission for it.

“School districts in Santa Clarita and across the state, the California State PTA, the California School Boards Association, and both houses of the state Legislature believe that it is a good idea to close a loophole in the charter law which has been abused by some school districts and charter schools acting in bad faith,” said Brian Walters, president of the Newhall School District board, in a statement. “SB 1263 was drafted to address this growing statewide problem.”

One district that has been accused of such misdeeds is the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District.

The Newhall district sued the Acton-Agua Dulce district in June, challenging the actions of the school board. That board has approved numerous charters since 2012. The suit also named the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences, and challenged its actions to locate an elementary school within Newhall School District boundaries. The school is chartered by Acton-Agua Dulce.

Other districts — the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Pasadena Unified School District — have hit Acton-Agua Dulce with similar lawsuits.

The Pasadena district suit, filed earlier this month, alleges the Acton-Agua Dulce board has approved more than 20 charter schools, many of which could operate outside its boundaries.

“The bill serves to legitimize charters and school districts who act lawfully,” Walters said. “The Legislature saw that basic school district governance concepts were being violated and future abuses could be stopped — that’s why SB 1263 moved through the legislative process.”

Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, blasted the bill in a statement, characterizing it as a “full frontal assault on the Albert Einstein Academy.”

“I call on Governor Jerry Brown to veto this measure, and I pledge to work with all parties next legislative session to address the concerns of process on where charter schools are located,” Wilk said.

“But it will be done with the intent to protect the integrity of the charter school process as a whole and to foster, not stifle, parental and student choice.”

Pavley’s bill would grandfather in charter schools that were approved before April 1, 2013.

The Acton-Agua Dulce board approved the Einstein charter in May 2013.

“Albert Einstein Academy opposes Senate Bill 1263 for its strong-armed attempt to change state Ed Code and deny parent choice and student access,” said Mike MeCey, a spokesman for Albert Einstein Academy.

“This is yet another example of school districts limiting charter school expansion in Santa Clarita Valley and dictating what’s best for the student.

“SB 1263 takes away options provided to charter schools and authorizing school districts,” MeCey continued. “The current law offered Albert Einstein Academy the flexibility to open and operate our successful school model. We intend to continue our fight in the state Senate and ensure that students prevail over bad public policy.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



AEAfamily: Posted: August 26, 2014 8:26 p.m.

Albert Einstein Academy is a wonderful school choice for my child. Although the local school districts feel that their schools work for all children, they do not. AEA serves a variety of children who's parents felt that this was the right choice for them. Shame on the local districts for trying to remove our choice because it gives that per student dollar to the school that the parent chose. I pay my taxes and am quite happy that those dollars benefit my child, as well as many others. It would seem that the school is doing something very right to have our local superintendents so afraid that they feel the need to do everything they can to shut them down. Dr. Nolet from SSSD is retiring this year. Maybe it's time for Mark Winger to step down too.

Foundations: Posted: August 27, 2014 1:12 a.m.

"Pavley’s bill would grandfather in charter schools that were approved before April 1, 2013."
Conveniently this will not apply to SCVi which is authorized by the Wm. S. Hart Union High School District operating out of Castaic.

scvsoccermom82: Posted: August 27, 2014 12:02 p.m.

I agree, GB please veto!! It IS an assault on AEA

politicsrock: Posted: August 27, 2014 12:06 p.m.

Thank you Assemblyman Wilk for remaining fair and balanced.

valleygirl85: Posted: August 27, 2014 12:14 p.m.

A statewide law for something occurring in our hometown seems pretty careless. I thought we had local government for a reason!

bobforte: Posted: August 27, 2014 1:46 p.m.

AEA, why is it a wonderful choice?

cglyde22: Posted: August 27, 2014 4:00 p.m.

Marc Winger and Joan Lucid should retire. They have taken their campaign agianst AEA to a personal level. These charter schools educates students to get better grades despite having to lease buildings and other facilities that the school districts don't have to pay for with their State funding. Shame on you and shame on Senator Pavley.

bartman: Posted: August 27, 2014 10:50 p.m.

If we were talking businesses in the private sector, this attempt to monopolize authority over charter school governance to within a districts boundary would be illegal. We see it all the time with phone companies and airlines. However, when you are speaking about the public sector its called totalitarianism. I see the issue as a checks and balances issue.

The layers of approval include approval of a district within an area (usually county)you plan to operate. If denied, approval can be sought by the county or even the state. All appropriate checks and balances for an over-site organization. The reasons for rejection were not substantiated then and they are pushing this through before it is disproved by facts.

This is why bullying is such a large problem in this valley. Its a trickle down thing. Children see adults doing things like this and mimic them. Shame on our administrators for their actions. They should practice what they teach. Inclusion of all ideas and techniques of education, playing nice, respect, and of course fair play. Wanting to control all the balls on the playground should get you a time out.

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