School board denies 5 school charter renewals, El Camino Real saved in last-minute deal

- Students and parents from six charter schools called on the school board to save their charters from being taken away.

First up at Tuesday’s board meeting was El Camino Real in Woodland Hills where school administrators have been accused of excessive spending.

“In the interest of stability and continuity of educational services I am recommending that the revocation process be stayed,” Superintendent Michelle King said.

The board approved that recommendation, but the vote to allow El Camino to keep its charter came with contingencies. The school’s executive director David Fehte has until October 26 to resign his position.

It’s a move that has angered some parents.

“Dave Fehte built that school with his own two hands with us as the parents,” parent Daniel Holmes said. “So we feel that as parents we kind of had to give in for this.”

Fehte was accused of charging up the school’s credit card with expensive steak dinners and hotel rooms. 

He agreed to take a pay cut, but the school board wanted him out, as well as four other El Camino Real board members.

A district representative will now get a seat on the charter’s board.

“The fact that LAUSD gets a board seat in our charter it just drives me crazy,” Holmes said.

While El Camino Real kept its charter, Celerity Charter School campuses in Eagle Rock and South Los Angeles were not renewed, meaning the schools will shut down next year.

The board also voted to not renew charters for Magnolia campuses in Van Nuys, Reseda and Carson.

“My biggest fear is having to go to another school for senior year because nobody wants to do that,” Alejandro Quesada, a junior at one of the Magnolia schools, said.

Advocates of charter schools vowed to keep fighting.

They plan to lobby to change state law so that an independent body, not school districts which they argue have financial incentives not to renew charters, would oversee charter schools.

“We will absolutely keep fighting for all of these schools,” El Camino Real parent, Erin Sanchez, said. “This should never happen again to anybody.”

The schools that didn’t get their charters renewed can appeal the board’s decision at the county and state level.

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