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Einstein officials say elementary school opening will be delayed

Posted: August 2, 2013 5:34 p.m.
Updated: August 2, 2013 5:34 p.m.

The planned opening date for the Einstein Academy elementary school in the Santa Clarita Valley will be delayed as school officials seek proper permits to resume construction, according to a post on the school’s website.

The post, attributed to Jeffrey Shapiro, the executive director of the Einstein Academy foundation, says the school is expected to open Sept. 9, more than two weeks after the originally scheduled opening date of Aug. 21.

“With the new first day of school set for Sept. 9, we expect to open with a beautiful facility,” the post reads.

“Know that we are also prepared that in the unlikely case that circumstances necessitate, we will conduct classes in an alternate temporary space until our state-of-the-art facility is ready.”

Stop work order
The city of Santa Clarita issued a stop work order Wednesday for the school site, 25300 Rye Canyon Road, after it was found that construction and demolition were taking place without required permits.

That order came a few days after city officials deemed incomplete Einstein’s conditional use permit application to operate the school.

Einstein would need to obtain the permit prior to opening the school, but any permit application would have to be approved by the Santa Clarita Planning Commission, which does not meet again until Sept. 17.

Shapiro did not respond to calls or emails requesting comment Thursday or Friday.

The post on the Einstein website attributes the delay in the school’s opening at least in part to local school districts not wanting charter schools in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“Rather than use the fact that 2,500 families have decided to seek an Einstein education to serve as a wakeup call, they have chosen to demonize us, our authorizers and anyone who supports choice in education,” the post reads.

“I wish I could say the efforts to scare parents will discontinue, but it is possible they will do whatever they can to disrupt the desires of the families of Santa Clarita.”

“Just know — they will not succeed.”

Ventura County
Einstein officials have run into similar difficulties in Ventura County getting their planned school off the ground.

That school, slated for a site on Corporate Center Drive in the city of Thousand Oaks, does not have the proper zoning permits to open at this time, according to Roger Rice, a deputy superintendent with the Ventura County Office of Education.

Einstein was granted approval to open a charter school in Ventura County in February, according to Rice.
However, school organizers failed to inform the Ventura County Office of Education about a proposed location change until late June, Rice said.

Now the Office of Education is examining an Einstein request for a waiver that would allow it to open the school without a zoning permit at its new location, an option Rice said is murky at this point.

“It’s extremely late in the game to try and get this resolved, and it’s problematic for us because of how late it is,” Rice said.

He said he did not know why about a month passed before Einstein officials notified the Office of Education.

“We were not kept apprised as often as we would have liked to be in a better position to help them,” he said.

Even if the waiver is granted and the site issue resolved, Rice said, the new facility would likely need to be approved by the Ventura County Board of Education.

“We’re trying to keep the focus on the kids and the families so there’s a positive resolution to this,” Rice said. “I just can’t see exactly what that will look like.”

Einstein officials are due to appear before the Los Angeles County Board of Education on Tuesday for their appeal of a decision by the Saugus Union School District to deny a charter petition for an elementary school.

Members of the school board voted in April to deny the charter. It was the fourth time the board has voted to deny an elementary school charter petition from Einstein and the third time Einstein has appealed the decision.

A meet-and-greet for the Santa Clarita Valley elementary school is scheduled Sunday at Dr. Richard H. Rioux Memorial Park in Stevenson Ranch, according to information posted on the Einstein academy website.

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Both Shapiro and the principal of the elementary school, Scott Spector, are expected to be in attendance.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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