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District Agrees to Give Charter School a Home

In return for a campus near LAX, Renaissance Academy will drop suits against L.A. Unified.

January 25, 2006|Jean Merl | Times Staff Writer

Averting a mid-school-year closing, Renaissance Academy Charter High School and the Los Angeles Unified School District have reached an agreement that will provide a location for the troubled Westside school and keep it open through the end of the academic year.

The Board of Education approved the deal in a closed session Tuesday, the same day it had been scheduled to vote on a staff recommendation to revoke the taxpayer-supported, independently operated school's charter.

Under the agreement, the district will provide space Renaissance can rent at 98th Street Elementary School, a closed campus near Los Angeles International Airport.

That would temporarily solve a major problem for Renaissance, which has been in four locations since its September 2004 opening.

In exchange, Renaissance leaders have agreed to drop their two lawsuits against the district. One suit alleged that the district owed the school a campus under Proposition 39, a measure approved in 2000 that, in part, requires districts to help charters with facilities.

According to the agreement, Renaissance's charter would expire in August -- nearly two years ahead of schedule, and the school, or a successor institution, would not be permitted to seek space from the school district again.

Renaissance also would be allowed to add to the number of independent-study students.

Board members did not comment on the settlement in open session, but David Tokofsky said after the meeting that "both sides get closure in the interest of families and students" for the rest of the school year.

The school's critics, including former faculty members and parents who pulled out their children in disagreements over how the school was managed, were outraged.

"We are both opposed [to] and stunned by this compromise," Stephen Esbin of the Coalition of Concerned Parents wrote in a letter to the board shortly before it approved the agreement.

Paul McGlothlin, the founder and principal of the school, said he was "very pleased the school will have a chance to continue.... These kids deserve an opportunity to have the school they want."

McGlothlin also said he was "absolutely confident about our school's ability to continue well into the future."

Although the agreement with the district pulls the plug on the charter in months, McGlothlin said Renaissance leaders probably would seek a new charter with the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

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