After reviewing a charter petition submitted by the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences and issuing a staff report, the Saugus Union School District denied Einstein a K-6 charter for the third time.
During Tuesday’s board meeting, the Saugus Union School Board voted yes 4 to 1 on a resolution to deny AEA’s petition. Board members Rose Koscielny, Judy Umeck, Paul De La Cerda and Douglas Bryce were in favor of the resolution. Stephen Winkler submitted the dissenting vote.
A staff report was released Friday that analyzed the petition to see if it met state requirements. A verbal summary of the report was given at the meeting on Tuesday. Einstein’s side of the issue was also presented by hired consultant Kevin Korenthal of KORE Communications.
The staff report has been subject to some controversy, with SUSD claiming its staff has has vetted the issue to the best of their ability. Korenthal, on the other hand, claimed in a recent editorial that there are errors and omissions in the report.
SUSD Superintendent Dr. Joan Lucid mentioned that there were 16 areas of concern in the petition, citing underdeveloped programs for English language learners and special needs students and an unclear budget, among other things.
Korenthal addressed the issue of an inadequate insurance budget by claiming that the district focused only on their liability insurance budget and ignored the section addressing worker’s compensation.
“Either through laziness or lack of desire to truly scrutinize the petition, they didn’t find that,” he said.
“Our report was thoroughly vetted through our attorney, so that it met all the parameters of the law,” Lucid said. “Citations from the law are in the report. The financials were completely reviewed by a certified public accountant. We’ve done our due diligence.”
Believing the district “ramrodded a vote right through” and that they were “voting based on their desire to keep school choice and education competition out of their district,” Korenthal said that AEA will keep trying to get its charter.
According the Lucid, the decision was simply meant that the district wants to make sure “that anything that would be approved by the district would be approved with full knowledge that it had been thoroughly vetted.”
The next step for AEA is to go before the Los Angeles Office of Education, which will review AEA’s petition and SUSD’s staff report. Korenthal is confident the decision will be in the Academy’s favor. If not, he said, he will take the petition to the state.
AEA has already faced denial by the L.A. Office of Education once, which prompted the Academy to pull its petition. The denial by SUSD marks the seventh denial for K-6 charter with school districts in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
The Albert Einstein Academy currently teaches grades 7th-11th and will begin teaching 12th grade during the 2013-2014 school year. For more information, click here.
Click here for more information on the Saugus Unified School District.