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Einstein Academy wins long-sought approval for Santa Clarita Valley elementary school

Second elementary school in the works

Posted: May 24, 2013 6:18 p.m.
Updated: May 24, 2013 6:18 p.m.

The Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences finally gained approval for its long-sought elementary school in the Santa Clarita Valley last week.

A second elementary school could be on the way as well, according to an Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District board member who voted in favor of the charter petitions.

District board members voted 3-2 last week to give Einstein the ability to open both a school for kindergarten through sixth grade students in the Santa Clarita Valley and a secondary school in the San Fernando Valley, said Matt Ridenour, a board member.

“I think we did a lot of homework and due diligence and felt like Einstein has proven themselves before,” Ridenour said Friday. “Ultimately I think our responsibility is, more than anything, to the parents and the students and it’s pretty clear there’s very strong demand (for the school).”

While neither of the two schools will be located within the boundaries of the Acton-Agua Dulce district, Ridenour said the district is also working with Einstein officials to open a third school that would be located in the district.

This school would also serve students from kindergarten through sixth grade, according to Ridenour.

An open house for parents interested in sending their children to the new charter school is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m., according to information on Einstein’s website.

That open house will be held in Einstein’s existing school facility, located at 28141 Kelly Johnson Parkway in Santa Clarita.

Einstein’s newly approved elementary school will likely be located within the boundaries of the Saugus Union School District, the district that has denied four different Einstein charter proposals.

“Why not locate (the school) out there, why here?” asked Saugus district Superintendent Joan Lucid last week.

Superintendents of the five other school districts in the Santa Clarita Valley raised issue with this in a letter that was submitted to the Acton-Agua Dulce district board. In that letter, the other superintendents urged the board to deny the petition.

Ridenour said he thought Einstein’s charter deserved “the benefit of the doubt,” citing the success of the Hart district school. He also said the schools are going to be located outside of the Acton-Agua Dulce district boundaries because of a lack of appropriate facilities in the area.

Those signing the letter included Hart district Superintendent Rob Challinor, who said last week he did so as a sign of solidarity with his fellow superintendents and because he does not think locating a school outside the boundaries of the chartering district is an “ideal arrangement.”

Challinor also said he does not think the existing Einstein school in the Hart district provides anything educationally that other Hart district schools do not.

“Do I think they’re doing a good job in reaching out to underserved students? No,” said Challinor about the Einstein school in the Hart district.

Einstein Academy foundation officials have not responded to requests for comment since the Acton-Agua Dulce district’s decision last week.

Reached by phone Friday Eddie Nathan, the associate director of the Albert Einstein Academy foundation, said he could not discuss on the charter schools, saying all comments had to come from Jeffrey Shapiro.

Shapiro, the executive director of the Einstein Academy foundation, has not responded to emails regarding the charter, nor has he returned voicemails seeking comment over the past week.

Voicemail messages left at the contact number listed online for the Einstein Santa Clarita Valley elementary school also went unreturned.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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