Amanda Keller-Konya  
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Renaissance Charter Academy,
West Los Angeles, California

|  School's Out, Forever?  |

The Renaissance Charter Academy was established in the fall of 2004.  During the school’s short existence, its students moved to five different major school locations and several other minor locations. 

In 2000 California voters passed Proposition 39, which requires charter authorizers to provide sites for charter schools.  Renaissance applied for a site with its authorizer, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).  While waiting for a location from LAUSD, classes were held in churches, hotels, residential homes, the YMCA and even a deli known as Mort’s Oak Room.  When LAUSD failed to deliver a school location, Renaissance secured its own locations.  Its first location at Alma Real in Pacific Palisades proved to be unsuited for Renaissance’s needs due to disagreements with the landlord resulting in mutual lawsuits. 

After moving from the Alma Real site, Renaissance Academy spent $650,000 on renovations of its second Bundy location.  In the fall of 2005, after being open for only one day the school was closed by LAUSD building officials.  The building was deemed unsuitable for students because it lacked a wheelchair ramp and a sink was not attached to the floor.  Shortly after the closure of the Bundy site, LAUSD also filed to revoke Renaissance’s charter license for failing to secure a site even though LAUSD was responsible for providing the site.  This illustrates the bureaucracy within the current structure of the charter system. Although necessary, authorizers such as LAUSD are faced with a conflict of interest.  Charter schools are self-governed and require minimal support from their local districts, so the success of a charter could result in the elimination of district and public school jobs.  

The Bundy site was eventually reopened and then once again closed, forcing the Renaissance Academy to permanently abandon the building they poured so much money into. In January of 2006, LAUSD finally voted to provide Renaissance Academy with a temporary location 23 miles from its original site.  The use of the site came with several conditions that will once again result in another closure. To receive a site location Renaissance was required to drop its lawsuit against LAUSD and also had to agree to the early expiration of its charter license.  Renaissance’s license expired in August of 2006, two years earlier than the original expiration date. In addition, Renaissance Academy may not seek space from the school district in the future.

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