Their schooling must go on

Families who enrolled their children at the private Armenian school that was shut down by a temporary court order last week must immediately switch schools, officials said.

Scholars Academic Foundation, a K-12 campus in La Crescenta, was forbidden from holding any classes at its site on Foothill Boulevard after city officials said it failed to obtain the required building and safety permits to operate a school there.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order that closed the school Sept. 1, and state education law requires families switch schools whenever a campus is closed.

The temporary injunction that closed the Foothill Boulevard campus is scheduled to be revisited at a court hearing Sept. 17, but even in the interim, state law is clear that students must be enrolled in an instructional program, said officials in Glendale and Burbank school districts who oversee attendance, transfers and academic records.

“The bottom line is parents must enroll their children immediately in a full-time public school program upon closure of [or] removal from a private school,” Margo Minecki, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, said in an e-mail. “There’s no waiting period.”

The school owner and operator, Anahit Grigoryan, said parents at her school were informed that they were free to enroll elsewhere, but she said she was confident they would return when a new school opens in Glendale or another city with the proper paperwork and permits.

“We don’t have any problems with education, the problem was with the building,” she said. “I’m pretty sure that because our school is very, very good, with high [academic] standards, that’s why our parents are very loyal.”

She said the school would open with the same name, but declined to discuss potential locations.

“We didn’t stop anything. We are just moving our school to another city, to another very proper place,” she said.

A closed school is legally bound to inform parents they must enroll elsewhere, according to state law and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. But state law puts the legal onus on parents to ensure their children are enrolled appropriately, officials said.

“[Families] risk being in volition of education code, which says school-age children must be enrolled in school,” said Alex Rojas, director of student services in Glendale Unified. “The longer the kids sit out, they’re missing instructional time.”

When an earlier iteration of the school vacated a building on Grandview Avenue, a rush of students poured into Burbank Unified, but records were hard to come by.

“We won’t know these kids exist, that’s the sad thing,” said Tom Steele, student services director for Burbank Unified. “There’s no real way for me to find these kids.”

State law does not describe penalties for schools that do not cooperate with exiting families and school districts that will receive them, Minecki said.

“The burden of enrollment is on the parent, but the private school should take the initiative and contact the school district to ensure a good transition for its students,” she said in an e-mail.

Scholars Academic Foundation is a different entity than Scholars Armenian School and Arts Center, which used to be on Grandview Avenue and owned by Grigoryan through Noble Armenians Inc. The company filed bankruptcy and continues its litigation against the Grandview Avenue property owner, his attorney said.

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