Updated: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 – 2:06 PM
By Laura Coleman
On Tuesday, Beverly Hills Unified School District gave the go-ahead for the Albert Einstein Academy’s Odyssey Academy to move into the City and operate as a tenant at Temple Emanuel.
The entrance of the school– whose charter was approved last Thursday night 50 miles away in the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District authorizing a material revision to change the academy’s location to Beverly Hills–was originally fraught with controversy that a district outside the City could give the okay for another public school to set up shop.
Indeed, before the agreement was reached, several BHUSD officials pontificated that the best course of action might be to send the school a cease and desist letter to prevent them from coming into Beverly Hills.
“In all candor, I voted for this to help Temple Emanuel,” Board President Brian Goldberg said. “If Temple Emanuel was not involved and was not in need of support, I would not have even considered this.”
The “Facilities and Funding Waiver Agreement,” which both parties must still sign, mandates that Odyssey “waive any and all rights” to request the use of district facilities and seek funding from the district. Further, the agreement states that Odyssey will reimburse the BHUSD for any loss of district funding, including federal funding, from the enrollment of district residents in Odyssey.
In return, the BHUSD agrees not to challenge AADUSD’s “legal right to operate a charter school located within [BHUSD’s] boundaries.”
“Having a district outside of our own sponsoring a school in our district boundaries is not a good idea,” Goldberg said. “Really, this is about being a good neighbor…while protecting BHUSD as a fiduciary.”
Hence the waivers.
AADUSD, which has issued over a dozen separate charter school petitions in the last three years and receives 3.5 percent of general fund revenue for oversight fees for each approval, appears to be using a loophole in the Charter Schools Act of 1992 which limits charter schools to the geographic jurisdiction of their authorizing entity.
“There is no connection to BHUSD whatsoever and the agreement spells that out very clearly,” Goldberg emphasized. In addition to the agreement’s assurance that there will be no financial loss to the district and that Odyssey and AADUSD will not assert any claims to BHUSD property, non-resident Odyssey students will at no time have any claim that they are a Beverly Hills students.