Huntington Park leaders want to ban new charter schools for a year
e small, densely populated city of Huntington Park is peppered with schools, about two dozen in 3 square miles. At least 10 are charters, and city leaders contend they’re bringing in unwanted traffic.
Their solution is to try to ban new charter schools.
Last month, Huntington Park City Council members voted 4 to 1 to place a temporary, 45-day moratorium on new charters in the city. On Tuesday, they plan to vote on whether to extend that restriction for 10 months and 15 days, effectively making the ban yearlong.
Charter schools are publicly funded but often are privately run. Unlike most traditional public schools, they can accept students from anywhere, not just from the neighborhoods around them.
Huntington Park Mayor Graciela Ortiz isn’t sure drawing students from elsewhere is in the best interest of the city. She also said she wants to see a greater focus on revitalizing businesses.
The city once was a cultural and shopping destination for Mexican and Central American immigrants in southeast Los Angeles County, but local businesses have struggled recently.
Ortiz says the city needs time to review its zoning policies and determine whether it has room for more schools.
“Our community has enough [school] options,” Ortiz said. “Right now our priority is going to be development and finding park space, green space for our kids.”
In a September report to the council, City Manager Edgar Cisneros used increased traffic to justify the moratorium. “Communities within the vicinity of charter schools have experienced impacts to vehicle circulation, parking, and noise,” he wrote.
It’s unclear whether the city has the legal authority to ban new charter schools. School districts, counties and the state are the only bodies that can authorize or reject charter schools. Cities do control zoning, however — so if a charter wants to operate in a city, it often must request a municipal conditional use permit.
Huntington Park would be on more solid legal ground if the ordinance banned all new schools, including private and parochial ones, UCLA law professor Jonathan Zasloff said.
“It is not clear whether...you can use local land use authority to make education policy,” Zasloff said.
The California Charter Schools Assn. will consider suing the city if the moratorium passes, Huntington Park leaders want to ban new charter schools for a year - LA Times: