[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
59°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
December 12
1891 - Actor Buck Jones, a Placerita and Vasquez "regular," born in Indiana [story]


Commentary by Ken Pfalzgraf
| Monday, Apr 27, 2015

KenPfalzgrafPreface: I am an Acton resident and Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District (AADUSD) school board observer. My last piece [here] gave readers an inside look at the struggles one has in breaching the wall of attorneys that the school district has set up to keep its future course secret as it invades educational communities throughout Southern California. This time, we’ll look at AADUSD’s boldest move yet: taking a shard off of a petition for a charter school that never opened due to a lawsuit, and attempting to use a doctored-up version of that same petition, and a buried process, to tiptoe in for a 3-percent cut of the 90210.

 

I sent an email request to the Acton-Agua Dulce school superintendent and the board president on the morning of April 22 for the board meeting packet for the April 23 meeting. I requested documents for agenda items 10.1 and 10.2, specifically: “Petition/material revision/enclosures/staff reports/verification of permission to open charter in Beverly Hills from Beverly Hills Unified School District for AEA (Albert Einstein Academy) Odyssey charter school.”

I was notified by email at 5:12 p.m. on the 22nd that the packet was ready and that I would be able to pick it up after 9 a.m. the next day. Paging through the packet, I found none of the information I had requested for the agenda items, even though it clearly listed “Enclosure Odyssey (material revision).” (See April 23, 2015 agenda [here]).

Was I surprised the school district was providing absolutely no information for its constituents to inform themselves before having the “opportunity” to participate in a public hearing? No. Transparency is in short supply in Acton-Agua Dulce.

Luckily, I had a bit of information to go on. I knew the Albert Einstein Academy “Odyssey” charter petition began its life when it was approved by the AADUSD board on June 12, 2014. At that time, it was to be located in the San Fernando Valley.

That Odyssey charter never opened because the Los Angeles Unified School District filed suit against the Acton-Agua Dulce district for venturing into LAUSD boundaries without approval.

Fast-forward to just a couple of weeks ago. In closed session, the Acton-Agua Dulce school board approved a settlement in the LAUSD vs. AADUSD charter school lawsuit. Included was a stipulation that the charter school would not open in the San Fernando Valley.

I’m betting AADUSD had to pick up the legal fees for all parties in the lawsuit (Los Angeles Superior Court case No. BS149062). I guess that I’ll have to do a records request to find that out.

Wait a minute, Pfalzgraf. Don’t tell us you’re saying the new Beverly Hills-Einstein Odyssey charter is the same charter petition for the LAUSD site that the LAUSD sued over? And that Acton-Agua Dulce, instead of vetting a new petition for the Beverly Hills site, is trying to pawn it off as a “material revision” to keep it under the radar?

FYI: A material revision to an existing charter petition typically means minor changes have been made. I guess moving the whole school, which never really existed, 25 miles from a school district, which has just sued you, into yet another school district is of those “minor changes.” Maybe that’s why I wasn’t given any of the documents I requested before the meeting, especially the “verification of permission to open charter in Beverly Hills from Beverly Hills Unified School District for AEA Odyssey charter school” part of my request.

Next, I found it odd that agenda tabs 10.1 and 10.2 were stacked on the same agenda. 10.1 was for a public hearing during which the Acton-Agua Dulce board would have the opportunity to consider input from its constituents and/or from representatives of the district where the charter would be sited, and factor that input into the board’s decision. Yet, tab 10.2 suggests that “the board approve Resolution No. 14-15.10 AEALAS-Odyssey’s material revision as presented.”

Apparently, the superintendent is psychic, knowing what the public input would be, how the board would factor that input into its decision, and what the outcome would be, that the board would be ready to approve the charter within minutes of the public hearing – all three days before the meeting occurred. That’s impressive. Remind me to call the superintendent’s office on Tuesday night for Friday’s Powerball numbers.

Ring, ring. “It’s Pfalzgraf.” “Have the attorney answer it.”

With absolutely no information coming from the Acton-Agua Dulce district, I decided to see if the Internet could tell me anything about how Beverly Hills feels about the “materially revised” charter school coming into the 90210. Just my luck, there it was: an article on the front page of the April 24 e-edition of the Beverly Hills Courier, loaded onto the web already.

The Beverly Hills Unified School District superintendent was quoted as saying: “Normally, a charter school would come in through a local governing board. Unfortunately, they’re coming in and establishing a charter school in our district boundaries without BHUSD consent.”

The article went on to say: “Board of Education VP Howard Goldstein said the district originally entertained the idea of Odyssey coming into Beverly Hills but changed its tune once it became known that it was unlikely to be cost-neutral, as it was originally proposed.” (See “ Odyssey Charter School Prepares Move Into Beverly Hills Amidst Controversy” pages 1, 18 [here]).

Acton-Agua Dulce's superintendent and a board member peruse the Beverly Hills Courier article on their attempt to charter a school in 90210 land.

Acton-Agua Dulce’s superintendent and a board member peruse the Beverly Hills Courier article on their attempt to charter a school in the 90210.

From what I had read, the Beverly Hills crowd wasn’t too excited about what was about to happen at the Acton-Agua Dulce school board meeting. I arrived just in time to catch the board members coming out of closed session. Being the good citizen I am, I handed my home-printed copy of the Beverly Hills Courier article to the board president, just in case the board had not checked in with Beverly Hills Unified before approving a charter in that district. A cake break at the conclusion of the Acton-Agua Dulce Teacher of the Year celebration (good job MVO!) provided an opportunity for the now sullen-faced superintendent to have a couple of ad-hoc conversations with several less-than-jovial board members who each had their turn pointing at my Courier printout [here].

I finished my cake and turned in my speaker card for agenda item 10.1. I intended to comment on the origin and legal history of the Odyssey petition as I knew it and would finish out my three minutes by speed-reading the Courier piece into the record. I looked up to find the past president of the board leaning over the chair in front of me and advising me that items 10.1 and 10. 2 had been pulled from the agenda during closed session.

Were the items really pulled in closed session? We’ll never know. One thing is for sure: That Beverly Hills Courier article sure took attention away from the cake. Good job on helping everyone on the dais limit their carb intake, reporter Laura Coleman.

So why does this matter to me? First, school districts are assigned a fiscal “certification,” based on a district’s ability to meet its current and foreseeable fiscal obligations. Certifications are “positive” for schools that are fiscally sound, “qualified” for those having some trouble and “negative” for districts that cannot meet their fiscal obligations. When a district falls into “negative” certification and stays there for a couple of quarterly budget reports, the superintendent is relieved of his or her post and the school board dissolved. An appointed superintendent and board representative come in to guide the district back to solvency. No muss, no fuss, no charter plans and no education money being spent on charter boundary lawsuits while the local students bear the fiscal brunt of someone’s ill-fated “plan.”

Acton-Agua Dulce fell into negative certification in January 2014. On June 25, 2014, its superintendent appeared in front of the California Assembly Education Committee to speak to Senate Bill 1263, which was aimed directly at stopping Acton-Agua Dulce’s practice of sponsoring charters in the boundaries of other school districts strictly for the cash it generates.

At that hearing, the Acton-Agua Dulce superintendent was filmed saying: “The truth of it is that we are in a fiscal crisis as many of the schools, if you will, around the state of California are. However, we’re in the process of that remedy, and we’re to the point where we are going to be positively certified in a very short amount of time exclusive of any kind of revenue or indirect cost associated with the charter schools.” (See it for yourself [here].) The full SB1263 session can be accessed here: http://scvtv.com/?p=22219 (the fireworks starts at the 38 minute mark).

Apparently, “a short amount of time” is more than a year, because the AADUSD budget still requires $800,000 of charter school cut to maintain a positive certification. Acton-Agua Dulce budgeted nearly 5 percent of its 2014-2015 budget for special education and charter school-related lawsuits; that’s nearly $500 of educational resources being taken from each student who remains at home in Acton-Agua Dulce. With unsettled lawsuits and SB 739 aimed directly at the district’s charter “plan,” who knows how stable AADUSD’s skim off of out-boundary charter schools really is?

And still, the district is willing to recycle a legally defeated charter petition to another school district and risk yet another round of lawsuits and legal fees. Is this anything more than a self-fulfilling prophesy aimed at keeping a paycheck coming in that should have been cut off when a promise made a year ago could not be kept?

Is this what you envisioned when you made your choices in the ballot booth?

What does a school district 52 miles away that can’t be self-sufficient have to offer Beverly Hills?

So hey there, Jed, I wouldn’t be loading up that truck just yet. Maybe Jethro’s got a bit more cipherin’ to do because right now, it’s kind of looking like it’s going to be 9021-NO.

What about an Albert Einstein Academy in Beverly Hills? If I’m AEA, I’m petitioning Beverly Hills Unified directly. Why not keep the Beverly Hills district’s educational economy local?

And yes, my child continues to do well at the AEA campus she attends, which is sponsored by the district in which the campus is sited. Thanks for asking.

 

Ken Pfalzgraf is an Acton resident.

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

10 Comments

  1. Chris Hulse Chris Hulse says:

    Way to go you rock!!! Enough is enough.

  2. I guess if these folks see this picture they are going to avoid all contact. Man, you are a very angry person just looking for a fight. Maybe Don Tellers sign |/ is true ;-)

  3. K Pfalzgraf says:

    Blame SCV TV for the picture. They had several to choose from including one with me dressed as an angel for Halloween, bedazzled halo and all. I even had some $5 aftershave on. Shame on SCV TV.

  4. K Pfalzgraf says:

    OK SCVTV you win.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Sunday, Dec 10, 2017
Derelict since the 1994 earthquake, the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall was the first productive oil refinery in the American West and is believed to be the oldest existing refinery in the world today. Unfunded restoration plans have come and gone. Now that the surrounding property is under development, will the promises be kept?
Friday, Dec 8, 2017
A National Memorial designation for St. Francis Dam will honor those who lost their lives in the nation’s worst engineering disaster and the role it played in ushering in a new era of oversight for dam construction.
Thursday, Dec 7, 2017
Eliminating net neutrality would allow Internet service providers such as Verizon, Comcast, Spectrum and AT&T to create a “slow lane” and a “fast lane” on the Internet, prioritizing certain companies over others and dictating what websites you’re able to visit and at what speed, or even blocking you entirely from visiting certain websites of your choice.
Monday, Dec 4, 2017
In his monthly message for December 2017, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin encourages residents to shop and party locally during the holidays to keep the cash in our community.
Friday, Dec 1, 2017
The big day is almost upon us and a year of celebrations is wrapping up. On December 15, 2017 our city will officially be 30 years old.
Thursday, Nov 30, 2017
Create and decorate your own holiday wreaths, centerpieces, candles and ornaments using a large assortment of fresh-cut greenery, pine cones and other beautiful natural treasures this weekend at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1891 - Actor Buck Jones, a Placerita and Vasquez "regular," born in Indiana [story]
'The Shape of Water' and 'Big Little Lies' top the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's 75th Golden Globes nominations announced Monday morning in Beverly Hills.
‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ Top 75th Golden Globes Nominations
Baxter the cat-napped kitten has been returned safely to the Shelter Hope Pet Shop at Valencia Town Center Mall.
Cat-Napped Kitten Returned Safely to Shelter Hope
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, the SCV Sheriff's Station has sent out an all-points bulletin about a male kitten stolen from his cage at the Shelter Hope Pet Shop. Plus, some holiday cheer comes to Carousel Ranch. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Monday, December 11, 2017
The next Castaic Lake Water Agency's Water Resources Committee meeting is Tuesday, December 12 at 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 12: CLWA Water Resources Committee Meeting
The Santa Clarita City Council will hold two special meetings, as well as its regular meeting on Tuesday, December 12, at 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively.
Dec. 12: City Council Special, Regular Meetings
The next regular organizational meeting of the Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District is set for Wednesday, December 13 at 7 p.m.
Dec. 13: Hart School District Governing Board Meeting
Castaic School Board members held their annual organizational meeting on December 7 and elected officers and representatives of the board for 2018.
Castaic Union School District Names 2018 Officers, Reps
The Los Angeles County Arts Commission has released findings from an 18-month survey of arts education in K-12 public schools.
County Arts Commission Unveils Findings from K-12 Arts Ed Profile
The Thomas Fire burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has now consumed 230,500 acres, according to Ventura County Fire Department officials Monday morning, up from 170,000 a day earlier.
Thomas Fire Explodes to 230,500 Acres, 15 Percent Contained
Bank of Hope has given California State University, Northridge $20,000 to help expand the university’s VITA income tax preparation assistance program for low-income families and individuals during the 2018 tax season.
CSUN Receives $2K Grant for VITA Income Tax Prep Clinic
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 live action short films will advance in the voting process for the 90th Academy Awards.
10 Live Action Shorts Advance in 2017 Oscar Race
The city of Santa Clarita is accepting submissions from local photographers for its Winter 2017 Photo Contest through December 31.
Dec. 31: City Winter Photo Contest Entry Deadline
The county and city of Los Angeles have activated the 211 LA County Disaster Hotline for residents to report damage caused by the December 2017 Creek, Rye and Skirball Fires in Los Angeles.
County, City of L.A. Fire Up 2-1-1 Disaster Hotline
The California Department of Motor Vehicles will provide limited services for victims of Los Angeles and Ventura wildfires at two assistance centers starting Tuesday.
DMV to Provide Services at 2 Fire Assistance Centers
The city of Santa Clarita invites residents to join in for a night of dancing at community holiday dances on in Newhall on Friday night and Canyon Country on Saturday night.
Dec. 15, 16: Holiday Dances at Canyon Country, Newhall Community Centers
The county and city of Los Angeles will open a local assistance center for victims of the recent wildfires on Tuesday, December 12 that will operate daily through Saturday, December 16.
Assistance Center for LA Wildfire Victims Opens Tuesday
Hannah Ostrom scored a career-high 25 points and The Master's University women's basketball team overcame some nine-day rust to beat CalTech 87-58 Saturday afternoon in Pasadena.
TMU’s Hannah Ostrom Too Much for CalTech
The Master’s University men's basketball team's 126-70 win over visiting Westcliff University on Friday was the Mustangs' eighth straight win.
Mustangs Roll Past Westcliff 126-70 for 8th Straight Win
College of the Canyons sophomore soccer player Angel Quintero has been named the Western State Conference East Division Player of the Year to lead a class of 12 Cougars earning postseason awards.
Angel Quintero Among a Dozen COC Athletes to Earn All-WSC Status
College of the Canyons sophomore soccer forward Aaron Winsick has been named the Western State Conference South Division co-Player of the Year with a combined eight Cougars named to the all-conference squad.
COC’s Winsick Named Co-Player of the Year, 8 Cougars Win All-WSC Honors
The city of Santa Clarita’s Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program has a special discount available now for streetlight pole banners purchased as holiday gifts to honor actively serving military members from the Santa Clarita Valley. Banners can be purchased by individuals or organizations.
Hometown Heroes Military Banners Available as Holiday Gifts
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station crime prevention deputies have received reports of theft in which wallets are stolen from the purses of women shoppers.
When Shopping, Beware of Pocketbook Thieves
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been awarded a $1,845,385 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety for a year-long program of special enforcement and public awareness efforts
Sheriff’s Department Wins $1.8M Grant for Traffic Enforcement Program
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies arrested a 24-year-old man and his 20-year-old companion, both from Saugus, on multiple charges early Friday.
SCV Deputies Book Saugus Couple on Drug, Firearm and Other Charges
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station has provided the public safety report for Stevenson Ranch (Zone 3) for November 27 to December 3, 2017.
Crime Blotter: Theft by Access Card, Burglary in Stevenson Ranch
1975 - Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society incorporates as a 501c3 nonprofit [Heritage Junction]
The National Weather Service has extended its Red Flag Warning of extreme fire danger for coastal and valley areas of Los Angeles and Ventura counties through Monday at 8 p.m.
Fire Danger Warning Extended to Monday 8 p.m.
The Rye Fire is 93 percent contained and the Creek Fire is 95 percent contained, according to a Sunday evening update from CalFire and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Rye Fire 93 Percent Contained, Creek Fire Nearly Out
Derelict since the 1994 earthquake, the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall was the first productive oil refinery in the American West and is believed to be the oldest existing refinery in the world today. Unfunded restoration plans have come and gone. Now that the surrounding property is under development, will the promises be kept?
Gate-King and the Pioneer | Commentary by Leon Worden
The Thomas Fire raged in Ventura County and west into Santa Barbara County Sunday, forcing evacuations as the blaze threatened coastal communities of Carpinteria and Montecito and moved inland into the Los Padres National Forest.
Thomas Fire Threatens Coastal Ventura, Santa Barbara County
Retired Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputy and former Newhall School Board member Mike Shapiro's home in Ojai was destroyed by the Thomas fire, which broke out Monday, December 4 and has scorched 173,000 acres as of Sunday morning.
Thomas Fire Levels Ojai Home of Ex-SCV Deputy, NSD Board Member
1941 - Three days after Pearl Harbor attack, 165th and 185th Infantry Regiments assigned to Saugus; Edison power substation guarded 24/7 [timeline]
1983 - U.S. release of John Carpenter's "Christine;" blew up fake gas station in Valencia [watch scene (R)]
CalFire and the Los Angeles County Fire Department updated residents on the status of the Rye Fire and Creek Fire, as well as evacuation locations and road closures as of Friday at 6 p.m.
Rye Fire 50 Percent Contained, Creek Fire 70 Percent Contained
A death investigation is under way at the Crescent Valley Mobile Home Park at 23500 The Old Road in Newhall, according to Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Sgt. Chris Maurizi.
Detectives Investigating Woman’s ‘Suspicious’ Death at Mobile Home Park