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Published in Print: May 19, 2004, as With Little Debate, L.A. High School Gets New Charter

With Little Debate, L.A. High School Gets New Charter

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A high-performing Los Angeles high school was granted a five-year extension as a charter school with little fanfare last week, after its conversion last year had triggered debates and fear.

Granada Hills High School had one of the best academic records in the 750,000-student Los Angeles Unified School District last year when it sought to become a charter school. The school board, fearful that other large high schools in the district would follow suit, granted it a one-year charter after much debate. ("Romer Raises Stakes in L.A. Charter Fight," May 21, 2003.)

This year, with most of those fears put to rest, there was little debate or discussion on granting the extension at the May 11 meeting. The seven-member board’s vote was unanimous.

Superintendent Roy Romer, who said last year that he saw Granada Hills’ conversion as a "serious threat" to the district and called for creating a "charter district" rather than piecemeal charter schools, expressed no objections to the extension at the board meeting last week, said his spokeswoman, Stephanie Brady. Mr. Romer was unavailable for comment last week.

Caprice Young, the chief executive officer of the Los Angeles-based California Charter Schools Association, said Granada Hills had "worked very hard" to persuade the board to approve the five-year extension.

"They’ve been able to be successful because of the freedom allowed as a charter," she said.

Ms. Young was president of the Los Angeles Unified school board when the charter was approved last year, but was defeated in her re-election bid in part because of her support of charters. At more than 3,800 students, Granada Hills is believed to be the largest charter school in the nation.

Ms. Young predicted that, because of the state’s recent cuts to its education budget and stringent rules on spending money, more California high schools will seek conversion to charter schools. "California has become a state of rules and not a state of student achievement, and it’s frustrating to work in that environment," she said.

Vol. 23, Issue 37, Page 5

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