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Glendale school board denies Options for Youth; questions surround La Crescenta site

After the Glendale school board denied a petition Tuesday that would have allowed Options For Youth to establish a charter school within Glendale Unified’s boundaries, questions linger over the charter school’s La Crescenta campus.

The Options For Youth site, located at 2626 Foothill Boulevard, is part of the San Gabriel Unified School District’s jurisdiction because that school district authorized the charter.

Glendale school officials, however, question the legality of Options For Youth operating a campus within Glendale Unified because local school officials never granted approval for Options For Youth to establish the site.

For the first time last month, representatives from Options For Youth proposed establishing a charter school in Glendale. That’s when some Glendale school board members learned that Options For Youth has been operating in La Crescenta.

“I was shocked to find out they were here. They came within our boundaries without us even knowing,” said Glendale school board member Greg Krikorian. “Technically, they were operating illegally in our area.”

The state’s education code states that “a petition for the establishment of a charter school shall identify a single charter school that will operate within the geographic boundaries of that school district.”

A 2016 court decision affirmed the law after the Anderson Union High School District sued Shasta Secondary Home School — now known as Shasta Charter Academy — for operating a resource center within the Anderson school district.

In light of what’s known as “the Shasta decision,” John Pappalardo, superintendent of the San Gabriel Unified School District, said the San Gabriel school board voted April 11 to file a waiver with the state board of education regarding Options For Youth-San Gabriel, which includes the La Crescenta campus.

“We understand that if the waiver is approved, Options-San Gabriel will have one year in which to transition these classes,” Pappalardo said.

San Gabriel school officials are still waiting to hear the state’s decision on the waiver, he added.

Options For Youth first opened a site in La Crescenta in 1994, said its spokeswoman, Kimberly Brown, in an email. It’s a charter school for students in seventh through 12th grades

Another Options For Youth representative, Lori Butler, told the Glendale school board the charter campus has 150 students.

Brown said 33 of those students are from the Glendale Unified district.

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Glendale school officials said they cannot confirm how many Glendale students attend Options for Youth in La Crescenta because they don’t have the ability to track students who leave the district.

“Until the Shasta ruling, the [Options For Youth] La Crescenta school site was within legal standards of operation,” Brown said.

Now, as a result of the Glendale school board denying Options For Youth to charter a school within Glendale Unified, Brown said she is uncertain if the charter will continue to operate its La Crescenta site.

“We do not know yet,” Brown said, “but our intentions are to continue operating the school site.”

The Glendale school board voted to deny the recent Options For Youth petition following a staff recommendation that found the charter proposal was “unsound.”

Statistics in the report show that 27% of Options For Youth-San Gabriel students graduated, compared to 92% of Glendale Unified students.

During a public hearing May 9, one student and one teacher voiced support for opening the charter in Glendale. The teacher was Desirae Dickinson, who teaches at the La Crescenta campus.

“We have been part of the Glendale community, and we would like to continue and cement that,” she said.

With the denial of the petition, it’s uncertain how long the La Crescenta campus will continue to operate.

Glendale Unified Asst. Supt. Kelly King said school officials will help current Options For Youth students navigate whatever may come next.

“We will definitely work with any GUSD families who may be enrolled in [Options For Youth] regarding next steps for them,” she said.

kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Twitter: @kellymcorrigan

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