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Northeast L.A. charter schools learn a lesson in competition

PUCi Prep in Eagle Rock closed because of low enrollment

Eagle Rock  —   Too many schools competing for too few students. That’s what apparently played a role in the recent closure of  two Northeast L.A. charter schools.

The closures of  PUC iPrep Charter Academy and Celerity Rolas this summer were made as charters have expanded and L.A. Unified has responded by opening magnet programs at its schools to remain competitive. Meanwhile, gentrification seems to have reduced the available pool of students.

Last week, PUC iPrep Charter Academy on Colorado Boulevard announced that it was closing after attracting about only half as many students it had expected to enroll dual-language and other special programs.  “The demand wasn’t there despite efforts to make sure families knew about the school and its unique language focus,” a PUC spokesman told the L.A. Times.

In July, Celerity Educational Group also blamed low enrollment for forcing it to close  Celerity Rolas, which served elementary and middle school students at campuses in Eagle Rock and Highland Park.  In a letter to parents, CEO Nadia Shaiq said: “Unfortunately, Highland Park and Eagle Rock are transforming and have declining populations of school-age children,” according to the L.A. Times.

The Times noted that each charter school operator faced other issues that could have made parents think twice about enrolling their kids. PUC’s co-founder, Ref Rodriguez, recently resigned from the the L.A. school board after pleading guilty to campaign money laundering charges. Meanwhile, Celerity has been struggling to recover from its own problems in the wake of investigations by federal and state agencies.

But it appears that competition from other charters as well as public schools has created a tougher environment for all the players.

It was only inevitable that charter schools would start competing with each other as well as L.A. Unified campuses as they expanded, Burbank Middle School math teacher  Benjamin Feinberg told The Times.

“I don’t think that the approval of these charter schools was really thought through in terms of enrollment of the entire Northeast Los Angeles region.”

3 comments

  1. Lol.

    I live in eagle rock. I know a lot of folks who moved into this neighborhood for the public schools. There are lots of new school aged kids here, but I think their parents are (thankfully) skeptical of the charter school trend.

    And Ref certainly didn’t help.

    Let’s make public schools great for everyone, again!

  2. The only way public schools will thrive is if residents enroll their kids at their assigned school. Lots of liberals move to these “hot” neighborhoods and they preach equality, but dare to have their kids go to school with the locals.

  3. Send your kids to the local LAUSD school. The teachers are better paid and have more experience. Teachers at charters are rookies and turn-over is high due to low morale. My daughters’ teachers at Dahlia Heights are all good and have been teaching there for decades.

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