Albert Einstein Academy of Literature, Arts and Science-Huntington Beach opened its doors to 164 K-5 students in August, 2014. The charter school, designated a Blended Learning Center, includes a home study program in addition to the tradition classroom program. The campus is an extension of AEA Santa Clarita, its authorizing authority.
Current enrollment has expanded to 244 students. Anticipated enrolment for the 2015/2016 academic year is 375 students, with an additional 214 names on the waiting list. The school has performed well since its first days. The students dress in uniforms, work hard and earn good grades.
The original charter with Santa Clarita was granted for only one year. Going forward, the school elected to submit a petition with local authorization to the Huntington Beach City School District. It was denied, as was discussed in an earlier article.
A revised petition was to have been submitted to the Orange County Board of Education for consideration at their June 17th meeting. Deliberations on more pressing matters forced the postponement of the discussion on the AEA petition until the July 9th OCBE meeting.
At the 11th hour, the school received notification that its new STEAM charter with its current authorizing partner, Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District was granted. The new charter, effective July 2015, specifically allows for the continued operation of the Huntington Beach blended learning center.
The notification, issued to parents and members of the Board of Overseers on Wednesday evening, July 8th by CEO Tricia Blum, the former general counsel of the charter maintenance organization, came less than twenty-four hours before the school was scheduled to present its case to the Orange County Board of Education.
Huntington Beach City School District had denied the school’s petition, identifying confusing references to high school curriculum, lack of an adequate description of the educational program, questions regarding the legality of AADUSD allowing a charter outside its physical boundaries and the low probability of successful implementation as primary reasons for denial. The latter argument seems specious in light of the school’s demonstrated performance in its very first year of operation.
The school made revisions to the petition HBCSD denied, a process that the OCBE does allow. Informal discussion with OCBE staff revealed legitimate concerns that the revisions made could be construed as material revisions, something that is not allowed.
AEA was advised to withdraw its appeal to OCBE in order to re-submit the revised petition to HBCSD in August. The school will address all the concerns that the school district raised. The results will be discussed in a future post. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.
Future plans to add a secondary school campus will be impacted by the outcome of the charter petition. We are hoping for a favorable decision.
We congratulate AEA-HB and wish them continued success. When the school reopens in the fall, 375 young scholars will be the beneficiaries.
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About the Author: R. Claire Friend, MD, is the Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, UC Irvine Medical Center, and the editor of the UC Irvine Quarterly Journal of Psychiatry. She is a retired psychiatrist and frequent commentator on the psychological dimensions of education and social welfare policies.