Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A leader of two independent charter schools in the San Fernando Valley said in remarks published Friday that she’s “very confident” of avoiding school shutdowns by appealing denied renewal petitions to the county and possibly the state.

The Los Angeles Unified school board Tuesday refused to renew three Magnolia schools serving 1,400 sixth- through 12th-grade students, including Magnolia Science Academy campuses in Reseda and Van Nuys, as recommended by district staff.

“I feel angry and frustrated and concerned, but I’m also very optimistic because I think we’re going to be successful at making our case at the county level or the state level. We’ve done that before,” Caprice Young, CEO of Magnolia Public Schools and a former president of the LAUSD school board, told the Los Angeles Daily News.

The district cited the Magnolia schools’ failure to timely respond” to document requests from LAUSD’s Office of Inspector General, which has been investigating Magnolia Public Schools for more than two years, and the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team, an external state agency that provides financial oversight.

LAUSD board member Scott M. Schmerelson, who voted against the renewal, said Magnolia appears to have a great educational program but called it “the most secretive school” he has seen, the Daily News reported.

“Magnolia has consistently refused to show their records, their books,” Schmerelson said. “I deserve to know how this charter school receiving public funds is spending public money when we are responsible for every penny we spend, every penny is up to scrutiny.”

LAUSD’s Charter Schools Division alleged that the Magnolia Education and Research Foundation’s “continued and repeated failure” to respond in a reasonable time frame to information requests has “limited the district’s ability to fully oversee the fiscal and business operations” of the foundation, the Daily News reported.

Young defended the Magnolia network, telling the Daily News arguing staffers have given the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team or FCMAT more than 1,100 documents so far for its review and they continue to provide information to it. As for the Office of the Inspector General, “we’ve given them the equivalent of 170 bankers boxes full of information.”

—City News Service

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