[KHTS] – Acton-Agua Dulce school officials plan to announce a decision on Einstein Academy’s new charter school petition Jan. 5.
The charter schools’ officials faced several local denials for its petition to operate a K-6 charter school in the Santa Clarita Valley, which led the school to seek permission from the Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District.
AADUSD officials granted the petition, which prompted a lawsuit from the Newhall School District against Einstein Academy and AADUSD, claiming the school was usurping Newhall’s local control, among other legal concerns.
The presiding judge named Newhall as the prevailing party, set aside the previously approved charter and is now asking Einstein to re-seek permission from AADUSD to operate a charter school in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District officials are now considering the move, which must be approved by the governing board.
A public hearing is scheduled for the first week of January, said Brent Woodard, AADUSD superintendent.
Einstein is seeking to apply for a program slightly larger in scope than the previous petition, while the Newhall is seeking to have AADUSD deny the charter or confine the program to AADUSD boundaries.
The charter was set aside after a judge ruled AADUSD officials didn’t properly document their fact-finding efforts for a school site within their own boundaries before approving a charter school site within NSD boundaries back in December 2013.
Making the case for AEA was Executive Director Jeffrey Shapiro, who pointed to the schools’ academic success at the K-6 and 7-12 grade levels.
“We’re serving over 1,000 students,” Shapiro said. “We’re employing the same program, the same philosophy and following the same mission at the elementary level as we are at the secondary level — and that is individualizing the program, limiting class size, making sure there is a focus on meeting the needs of each student.”
The schools’ legal counsel provided documentation to show unsuccessful efforts to find a suitable spot for the new charter within AADUSD boundaries.
Newhall School District officials, including four of the district’s governing board members and Superintendent Marc Winger, said academics were not the issue as much as their concerns with sovereignty and the legality of the charter school petition.
“Our main concern is not about the quality of the school and it’s not about parent choice and it’s certainly not about a lawfully established high school program,” Winger said. “It’s about the law, it’s about the lawful establishment of charter schools, and it’s about a charter school that should be compliant with the law.”