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OC School Of The Arts Gets Charter Renewed — Without Conditions — For 5 More Years

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Supporters of the Orange County School of the Arts applauded the OC Board of Education's vote to approve the school's charter. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The Orange County School of the Arts will live on for another five years – and it won't have to answer to the Santa Ana Unified School District anymore.

After about 90 minutes of presentations and discussions, the Orange County Board of Education agreed at its meeting today to take over as OCSA's charter authorizer from Santa Ana Unified. Last week, the county Department of Education staff recommended to the board that it should become the new authorizer of OCSA's charter -- on the condition that it address concerns over admissions policies and fundraising practices.

But the five-member county board voted 3-1, with one abstention, to approve the charter with no conditions.

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“The Orange County School of the Arts community can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the school they cherish is here to stay," OCSA founder and executive director Ralph Opacic said in a written statement. "While I always had faith that the quality and impact of our program would be recognized, I am grateful to the Orange County Board of Education and the Orange County Department of Education for becoming our new partner."

Dozens of parents stood and applauded after the board vote.

"Thank goodness that we've got our charter and we've got it the way that we needed it ... in order for the school to continue to function on the level that it does," said Angela Grier, whose daughter is a sophomore at OCSA.

Board president Mari Barke, vice president Ken Williams, and board member Lisa Sparks voted to approve OCSA's charter petition without conditions. Board member Beckie Gomez, who favored approval with conditions, voted no.

"I don't see what the harm would be in approving the petition with those conditions to assure that some of these changes have, in fact, been made," she said before the vote.

Board member John Bedell abstained.

OCSA’s current charter with Santa Ana Unified remains in effect until June 30.

'While we appreciate the relationship that we have fostered with OCSA over the last 20 years," the district said in a statement, "we support OCDE providing oversight of OCSA going forward, as we believe there are still outstanding issues to be resolved at the school."

The county Department of Education will become the oversight agency for the public charter school starting July 1.

How’d we get here? It’s a long story.

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