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California School District Under Fire for Sponsoring Charter Schools

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By Jackie Mader. Cross-posted from the Rural Education blog

A rural district in southern California is the subject of several lawsuits after it authorized charter schools that have opened in neighboring districts, according to a recent story by LA School Report.

The Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District, which serves about 1,100 students north of Los Angeles, has approved more than 20 new charter schools in recent years, many of which are located in nearby school districts. California's charter school law states that if a charter school is unable to operate within a school district, it can operate outside of district boundaries. Acton-Agua Dulce has said that it does not have the facilities and resources to house charter schools within its boundaries.

Acton-Agua Dulce Superintendent Brent Woodard told the LA School Report that while charter schools have benefits for students in his district, there is also a financial benefit for the district, which has struggled with declining enrollment and budget shortfalls. The district charges a fee to manage the charter schools it authorizes, including those located in neighboring districts. In recent months, the Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Newhall unified school districts have each filed lawsuits in protest of the charter schools that have opened within their service areas.

Nationwide, only about 16 percent of charter schools are located in rural areas and they often face unique challenges, including few funding streams and facility options. Some charter school opponents argue that the schools are unnecessary in rural areas and drain resources from traditional public schools. Supporters of rural charters say charter schools can provide an academically stronger school option and possibly strengthen rural communities.

Related: Calif. Teachers' Union Is Getting "Serious About Charter School Organizing" 

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