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Want To Start A Charter School In LAUSD? New (Tougher) Ground Rules Now Apply

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FILE - A group of around 50 teachers and parents from El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills attend a protest on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. (Kyle Stokes/KPCC)
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Los Angeles Unified School Board members this afternoon narrowly voted to approve a policy that has alarmed charter school advocates.

The new policy outlines how LAUSD officials will weigh requests to start new charter schools or renew existing charter schools, which currently serve more than 118,000 students.

LAUSD is adapting its guidelines to account for sweeping changes to California’s charter law, which granted districts statewide more powers to block new charters from opening. But the changes to state law — part of Assembly Bill 1505 — also mean that existing schools with strong academic track records should have an easier time staying open.

The California Charter Schools Association argues LAUSD’s new policy oversteps its new powers, and could effectively “ban new charter schools and close existing quality schools.” But LAUSD leaders say the charter association’s concerns actually stem from AB 1505 itself, not district overreach.

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HOW THEY VOTED

On Tuesday, board members held several, separate votes on each section of the 120-page policy. Board members voted 4-3 to approve the section on new charter applications, with Mónica García, Kelly Gonez and Nick Melvoin — all endorsed by the charter association — voting no.

But on the section covering charter renewals for existing schools, only Jackie Goldberg voted no. The board also adopted an amendment that would apply LAUSD-generated growth data to the district’s decisions on renewals.

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L.A. Unified School Board members meet via Zoom on Aug. 11, 2020. (Screenshot/LAUSD)

WHY THIS MATTERS

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Assembly Bill 1505 was crafted in the spirit of high-minded compromise — meant to help charter advocates and critics resolve their differences and join forces to advocate for mutual interests.

But L.A. Unified is home to more charters — publicly-funded schools run by nonprofits, operating under district oversight but outside school district control — than any other school system in the nation. Whether or not Assembly Bill 1505 can live up to its goal of turning down the temperature of charter school politics will largely depend on how LAUSD implements the new law.

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