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Another co-location fight on the horizon and guess where: Stoner ES

Vanessa Romo | March 5, 2015

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CWC-Mar-Vista-Charter-School-e1400258293648-800x600Just when you thought it was safe to hang around Stoner Avenue Elementary in Mar Vista, another fight is in the works. A pre-emptive protest is scheduled for next week to ward off another potential co-locator.

ICEF Vista Academy Middle School, a charter that’s currently located at a church facility a few blocks away from Stoner, wants to expand to include nine new classrooms on the Stoner campus. Still mindful of last year’s unpleasantries, parents at Stoner are saying, “Thanks but no thanks.”

Under Proposition 39, charter schools are entitled to vacant space within district public schools. A charter school can request a preferred site, but ultimately the district decides. The public school caught in the middle gets no real say in the matter. That has wreaked havoc on campuses since the legislation passed in 2000, including several within LA Unified.

Last year, Stoner was embroiled in a bitter fight with another charter school, Citizens of the World – Mar Vista, with which it shared the campus. The dispute got ugly: name calling, lawn signs, endless email chains about the lawn signs that included name calling, physical confrontations, and at least one accusation of attempted arson.

This time around the “Friends of Stoner” parent group, says it’s not standing by while another co-location is foisted on the community. In a letter to ICEF board members, whose chairman is former LA Mayor Richard Riordan, the president of the parents group, Adam Benitez, wrote, “The Stoner community is mad and is fighting back against this proposed co-location.”

He continued: “In speaking with the ICEF community, we have learned that many of the ICEF parents are opposed to the co-location and are angry that ICEF is seeking the co-location without having sought the input the parents first. Also, ICEF parents I spoke with were upset when they learned that the ’empty’ rooms are actually set-asides, and that a co-location would mean taking resources from one set of kids in the neighborhood to give to another. ICEF parents thanked us for standing up for the community and have asked what else they can do to avoid the co-location.”

Stoner parents have been leafletting against the arranged marriage in front of the ICEF Vista school and collecting signatures for a petition that it plans to present to the charter organization’s board next month.

ICEF officials did not respond to a request for comment.

It is unclear if the district has approved ICEF Vista’s request. Friends of Stoner contends the district has not extended an official offer, holding on to hope that it can block the assignment.

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