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Stoner parents challenging LAUSD for extending co-location deadline

Vanessa Romo | March 20, 2015

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icef public schools logoYet again, LA Unified finds itself in the soup because of a computer malfunction.

Friends of Stoner, a group fighting to block the co-location of another charter school at Stoner Avenue Elementary in Palms, has met with lawyers to discuss legal options against LA Unified for extending the application deadline by three days.

Frustrated Stoner parents, opposed to sharing the campus with nearby ICEF Vista Elementary Academy, contend that the district does not have authority to change the state-set Nov 1 deadline without permission from the Department of Education, which it appears district officials did not solicit.

The district prolonged the submission window for charter schools seeking classroom space on traditional public school campuses after the online application program went down on the day applications were due. This is the second year the district has accepted electronic applications.

“The deadline is the deadline and you can’t arbitrarily change it by three days not for ICEF and not for anyone,” Adam Benitez, president of the group told LA School Report. “What authority do they have to supersede state regulations? “

“The district is basically saying, regulations be damned, we’re going to do whatever we want!” Benitez said. He said the group has already contacted the office of the state Attorney General and is awaiting a response.

This is the second time in two years that Stoner parents have mounted a defense to keep a charter school from co-locating at its facility. Last year, Citizens of the World — Mar Vista tried unsuccessfully to take advantage of empty space at Stoner.

ICEF Vista got its application in on Sunday, Nov 2.

The high-performing ICEF charter school based at a church campus just a few blocks away from Stoner, hopes to expand enrollment and services by taking over what it says is available space at the traditional public school.

“We tried to submit it on Nov 1 but the system was down, and it wouldn’t take any submissions,” said Michel Schneider, communications director for the charter school organization, who contended that the school’s application was “90 percent complete at that point.”

“It was just the last step that we needed to finalize that it would’t take,” she added. But, ICEF officials tried again the following day, and it finally went through.

“We submitted it on Sunday, Nov 2, and received a confirmation.”

It is unclear how many more charter schools took advantage of the added time.

In a statement late this afternoon, the district said: “Due to unforeseen technical difficulties, on November 1, 2014, prior to the deadline for submitting a Proposition 39 facilities request, the District’s online Facilities Request Form began indicating that the application window had closed.  Therefore, charter schools that had ‘in-progress’ requests could not submit them through the online system. To allow the District time to resolve these technical issues without precluding charter schools that would have otherwise submitted a timely request from being able to do so, the deadline for submitting Proposition 39 facilities requests for the 2015-2016 school year was extended to 11:59 p.m. on November 4, 2014.”

The district plans to notify charter schools about co-location assignments on April 1.

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