By Hugo Guzman & Sarah Favot, The Pasadena Star-News | http://bit.ly/1lc2Av7
The Pasadena Unified School District school board voted to file a lawsuit against the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District for opening the SCALE Academy Charter School within PUSD’s boundaries. The charter school is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2014. Walt Mancini — Staff photographer
Posted: 07/29/14, 9:08 PM PDT | PASADENA :: The Pasadena Unified School District school board unanimously voted to file a lawsuit against a school district that it believes illegally chartered a middle school within Pasadena Unified’s boundaries and will seek the school’s closure.
SCALE Academy Charter School, which stands for Schools and Communities for Advanced Learning Experiences, opened this spring at 1206 Lincoln Ave., a property owned by Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church. The middle school was chartered by the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District, a 2,400-student school district near the Antelope Valley.
District spokesman Adam Wolfson said AADUSD did not notify PUSD before it had approved an application for a charter school that would be located within Pasadena Unified’s boundaries.
“Families who are looking at that school should be aware that there’s pending litigation regarding on whether the school operate within PUSD boundaries,” Wolfson said. “One of the possible outcomes is that the court will shut them down for illegally operating outside of AADUSD.”
The district first learned of the charter school that serves students in sixth through eighth grades when board members received flyers recruiting students in their mailbox. Officials with SCALE declined to comment.
PUSD is the most recent in a string of school districts filing charges against AADUSD over charter school petition approvals. AADUSD, which operates two elementary schools, a junior high school and one high school, has authorized more than 20 charter schools, according to PUSD.
Los Angeles Unified School District and Newhall School District have also filed lawsuits against the district.
PUSD officials and other school district superintendents believe the financially distressed AADUSD has approved charter schools to generate revenue. AADUSD is currently assigned a “negative certification” and is being monitored by the Los Angeles County Office of Education.
The school district that charters a school receives a portion of any income generated by the charter school.
On June 12, LACOE issued a stay order to the AADUSD school board preventing the board from approving any further charter school applications.
AADUSD Superintendent Brent Woodard and school board members did not respond to requests for comment.
AADUSD board member Ed Porter told KHTS AM1220 last month that the charter petitions were done legally. “We’re operating within the legal confines for charters schools set forth by the state,” Porter said.
When SCALE Academy submitted its petition to AADUSD in January, the charter school had not found a permanent location, but it’s application said: “The school plans to locate in the Acton-Agua Dulce School District.”
Despite the legal action, SCALE Academy plans to open its doors on Aug. 18 and is accepting new students.
A school district that charters a school outside of its district must notify the school district where the charter school plans to operate.
A bill in the legislature filed by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, aims to change the wording of a law so that the district where the charter school plans to locate must provide written approval before the charter school is approved.
PUSD’s attorney said PUSD must have a voice in the matter.
“The lawsuit is not an attempt to prevent charter schools in the Pasadena Unified School District, but to ensure that local charter schools are authorized in compliance with law and operate in concert with local school districts to the benefit of our local communities,” Attorney Sue Ann Evans said in PUSD’s statement. “The district recognizes that charter schools can play an important role in the community, but they best complement the services of local school districts when they are formed and operate in conjunction with a local school district.”