After a public and Board Member comment session lasting over two hours, Burbank Unified School District’s Board of Education revoked the conditional approval of Giligia Charter Academy’s petition to open a charter school in Burbank. Held at City Hall, extra police officers were on hand to help maintain order at the crowded School Board meeting, Thursday evening, July 17.
The School Board also denied the Academy’s amended charter petition, citing conditional requirements not being met, including a lease and declared location for the school and a transparent and viable budget for the next three years.
“Why was Burbank chosen for the site of the Giligia Charter Academy?” wondered Board Member Dave Kemp, noting that most of the signatures on the petition were from the San Fernando Valley area outside of Burbank and Glendale, primarily Studio City, North Hollywood and Sherman Oaks.
“Perhaps in those areas there is a need for this charter,” Kemp added. “It doesn’t appear there is a need for this in Burbank.”
“I’m opposed to the idea of separating kids because they want to be separate from the other students in the district,” he continued.
Kemp discussed the typical use of charter schools in California in which parents address an under-performing school and turn it into a charter school to meet the needs of all the children at the school, noting this scenario has happened with some high schools in LAUSD.
“Your kids in this community are getting a great education and great opportunities. To say that they are not… there’s something wrong for people to say they’re not getting the quality education they need in Burbank,” Kemp also said.
“If you want to start a private school, fine. If you want to go to a Catholic school, fine. If you want to go to a Presbyterian school, fine,” commented Board Member Ted Bunch.
“But, this is a unified school district and we take everybody who wants to come here,” Bunch added. “If you don’t want to be here, fine – start a private school.”
Bunch pointed out that after the success of the Spanish-language Dual Immersion program, beginning in Kindergarten in BUSD, the next language the district is preparing for the program is Armenian, as it is the second-most popular language in the district.
“A group of people who are primarily not Burbank residents came into our community with this petition,” added Board Member Larry Applebaum. He discussed at length the weaknesses of the petition and the responsibilities of the Board of Education and petitioners.
A contentious Town Hall meeting was held a few weeks ago after Burbank citizens expressed concerns over the conditional approval of the charter school petition in June. Thursday evening, several public comment speakers and Board Members expressed displeasure with the ethnically-charged and racially-disparaging comments made by a few people at that Town Hall meeting.
Board members emphasized their desire for dialogue with all members of the Burbank community and encouraged those who feel their needs are not being met by the district to reach out to BUSD officials. Video of the entire meeting can be found on the district’s website.