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July 21
2009 - Castaic resident Gidget, the Taco Bell commercial Chihuahua, dies at 15 after major stroke [story]


The Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts & Sciences charter school’s foundation will make its third bid for approval of its petition for a K-6 charter by the Saugus Union School District Board of Trustees at the board’s meeting Tuesday night.

After the school opened with more than 200 students in August 2010, the Einstein Academy Foundation received charter approval from the Hart District in January 2012 for grades 7-12, but its petition for a K-6 charter has been turned down twice by the Saugus school board, which cited numerous issues with the petitions.

Currently offering grades 7-9, AEA has plans to add a grade each year until all high school grades are offered. The Saugus board’s approval of the K-6 charter would allow Einstein (AEA) to add those grades to round out its proposed K-12 curriculum.

After AEA submitted its third petition for K-6 charter, the school district’s staff prepared a report evaluating it, and made it available to AEA on Friday. The report outlines the board’s issues with the latest petition, while Einstein representatives have countered that the report is inaccurate.

“The staff report is reflective of what the state law requires in taking a look at all of the elements, and there are five different areas that have to be looked at,” said Dr. Joan Lucid, the district’s superintendent. “In looking at the five areas, the staff found discrepancies and cause for concern in each of those areas.

“The first one has to do with the educational program and specifically for English-language learners and special education youngsters,” Lucid said. “The second one has to do with being able to implement a program as it’s set forth, and it has more to do with the budget, and for just the overall content of the petition. The third one has to do with the signatures that are required by the educational code. The fourth has 16 different elements that have to be looked at, and each one has to be thoroughly reviewed. And the fifth is about affirmations and assurances that comply with state law.”

“The staff report is riddled from beginning to end with errors, omissions, incorrect and out-of-date information and even a suspect claim of authority committed by the Saugus Union School District,” said Kevin Korenthal, a consultant hired to assist the AEA Foundation with submitting the petition.

“There are instances where answers to questions that are required by law are claimed by the staff report to amount to one sentence, when if you go and review the petition, there are paragraphs in answer to that question,” he said. “(The report) is a document that’s not credible.

“Cumulatively, all of these errors and omissions, etc. paint a negative picture of the Einstein petition,” he said. “If (the report) had been done accurately, I think the Trustees would have been given motivation to vote in favor of the charter.”

Local academic performance index (API) scores released Oct. 11 by State Superintendent Tom Torlakson ranked Einstein at 910 (up from 908 last year), second only to Academy of the Canyons (937 in 2012 and 941 in 2011).

The Saugus board is set to take up the AEA charter issue Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Saugus Union School District’s Education Center, 24930 Avenue Stanford in Valencia.

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The William S. Hart Union High School District and Spirit Holding, developers of Castaic High School, will host a community kick-off event on Friday, Aug. 3, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. celebrating the one-year countdown to the grand opening of the new school, currently under construction.
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