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Acton-Agua Dulce School Officials Review Einstein Charter

Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District officials are reviewing a charter petition for a kindergarten-through-sixth-grade school, district board President Debbie Rocha said Wednesday.


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“The important thing to understand is, there’s a petition in front of us now, and it has no facility in our boundaries,” Rocha said.

As it currently reads, the petition is for a K-6 in the Santa Clarita Valley, and a seventh- to 12th-grade facility in the San Fernando Valley.

“That’s what’s in the petition,” said Rocha, a longtime SCV resident who also teaches sixth grade at Helmers Elementary in the Saugus Union School District.

Rocha said she has taught in the Santa Clarita Valley for about 27 years, after moving to the area in 1986.

With any charter-school petition, there are 16 different areas that needed to be addressed due a to a state law, she said.

Einstein Academy for the Letters, Arts and Sciences recently received a fourth denial from the Saugus Union School District, and has not yet made comment regarding whether officials will again seek approval from the Los Angeles County of Education.

“The bottom line is, we’re not limiting our options. We’re looking at what’s in the best interest of the students we look to serve,” said Jeffrey Shapiro, executive director of the AEALAS Foundation, which provides oversight for Einstein Academy.

The (foundation) really believes in its mission of helping each individual student thrive, and we’re continuing to try to serve that mission,” Shapiro said. “And we’ve had discussions with various school districts to try and serve that mission.”

The foundation recently received charter approval in Ventura County, as well as a smaller district in San Diego County, and another in Ohio, for a K-12 district.

Acton-Agua Dulce District staff and counsel are currently working to review the petition in front of them and present a recommendation to the board, and the process is in its third week.

Past Einstein Academy petitions
The district has 60 days to review the petition and render its decision. District officials have not yet said when they intend to make a ruling.

Rocha said she didn’t want to comment on the status of the petition until she had seen a review by staff and counsel.

There were several questions brought up during the discussion of the petition regarding legal issues, operational issues and budget issues, which are being addressed by staff and counsel, Rocha said.

A memorandum of understanding also was discussed during a recent Acton-Agua Dulce district board meeting, which, in addition to the charter sites mentioned, would add a dependent charter that the school district would run at one of the district’s existing sites.

This charter, if approved as part of an additional MOU, would open in 2014-15.

The foundation currently operates a seventh- to 11th-grade school under the oversight of the William S. Hart Union High School District. The school will be adding a 12th grade next year.

Rocha acknowledged that this could in fact boost local enrollment, and the district would receive additional funding from the added enrollments.

“I think right now the positive is we get 1 percent by law of the ADA for oversight of the (charter school), to make sure they’ll be fiscally responsible,” in addition to several other areas of oversight, Rocha said.  

ADA is the per-student funding formula that determines how much the state will give each school per student.

Saugus Union School District board President Judy Umeck questioned whether a district should be approving a charter outside of its boundaries. Especially in light of the fact that the district has a vacant school building.

The district’s Acton kindergarten-to-fifth-grade site is currently unused.  

“I find it amazing that a school district can vote to monitor a charter that is in another school district’s jurisdiction,” Umeck said.

Rocha, who also runs Straightening Reins, a local charity aimed at helping children and families at a local barn, said she just wanted to serve the children in her district the best way possible.   

“At this point, our district staff report has not come out yet,” said Rocha. “We’re waiting for legal counsel to finish the review.”


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Acton-Agua Dulce School Officials Review Einstein Charter


Article: Acton-Agua Dulce School Officials Review Einstein Charter
Source: Santa Clarita News
Author: Perry Smith