In order to get approved, charter founders have to submit a petition to LAUSD, which then has to be approved by the board of education. In all charter petitions, the petitioner must prove that a charter is needed by demonstrating that the area where the school would be located is not served adequately.
But for two charters set to open in the fall, the data is for the wrong neighborhood.
PUC iPrep will open at 1800 Colorado Boulevard, in the heart of Eagle Rock in a converted grocery store that currently houses Renaissance Arts Academy. However, when the petition was submitted, the school was proposed for a location near 1855 North Main Street, in East China Town. That is an 8 mile difference.
As a result, when PUC iPrep submitted its petition, it compared itself to schools in the East China Town area, not the Eagle Rock area.
The red marker in the map below shows where the school will be located. The purple marker is where the school was proposed and the blue markers are the schools they compared themselves with in order to legitimate the need for the school.
Instead of opening up in a high need area, they are opening up in an area that has some of the highest performing elementary and middle schools in Los Angeles.
This has also been done by Equitas Academy #4, which will open in the fall as well. Their original projected location is 2 miles away from their original location through some of the densest parts of Los Angeles. And as a result, their projected location is on the periphery of the schools they surveyed.
Again, the Red is their actual location compared to the proposed location (purple) and the sites they surveyed (blue).
This matters a lot. Charter openings should be based on solid data and solid information. Instead, once the petition is approved, it appears that the charter has free reign to locate wherever it feels without further board approval.
But when you read the charter petitions more deeply, and look at what these schools have done, you also realize that the petition is treated more like an aspirational document (even though it is more like a contract).
For example, here’s a paragraph from page 176 (yes, I read the whole thing) of the PUC iPrep charter:
Developing and maintaining a web site with current information about the school. The website will include enrollment period and lottery information (location, date, time). All outreach efforts will be completed in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. [bold added by Schooldatanerd]
But take a look at their website – presented only in English.
It just makes me wonder how much of the charter petition is actually used after the the petition is approved by the board. When I worked at a charter, we rarely looked at the charter petition – only glancing at it when it was time for renewal. But that document is the part that makes charter schools democratic – approved by an elected board – and when schools are founded on faulty data or act against their promises, they are acting undemocratically.