LAUSD board reaches compromise with several charter schools for renewal

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Tuesday was a tense day for students and parents as Los Angeles Unified School District board members decided the future of many popular charter schools.

Fourteen-year-old Fernando Damiano said going to Magnolia Science Academy 5 School in Reseda has changed his life.

"It's been very different. I feel I'm loved over there. I feel that I can express myself and I won't be judged. At my other school, I was the kid no one ever wanted to talk to," the 9th grader said.

Fernando is one of hundreds of students whose lives could soon change.

Fernando's school and North Valley Military Institute in Sun Valley were two charters that had their petitions for renewal denied because they didn't meet certain criteria.

The votes were made at a packed LAUSD meeting. Hundreds of charter school advocates gathered outside before it started.

Dr. Caprice Young is the CEO and superintendent of Magnolia Public Schools. She said the denials were extremely disappointing.

"It's very difficult to explain to parents because they know their kids are happy and they've seen the growth that their kids have had. And you can't say, 'Your kid can't have this school because of politics.' That happens to be the truth, but it's not a satisfying answer," she said.

"Our goal with this compromise was to focus on achievement. So when schools don't meet that high bar, we have to say those students deserve other opportunities," said Nick Melvoin, vice president of the board.

Fourteen charter schools had initially been recommended for denial, but after extensive negotiations, the board and charter schools were able to reach a compromise.

"I think it's a start to continued dialogue with the district so we can continue making decisions with kids first," said Emilio Pack, founder and CEO of Stem Prep Schools.

The schools that were denied renewal can appeal to the Los Angeles County Board of Education -- and some school leaders said they intend to do everything possible to save their charters.
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