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Charter School shut down by Fire Marshal

August 27th, 2014 by Temple City Tribune

A charter school in Pasadena was closed on Tuesday as the fire marshal for the Pasadena Fire Department said “the school’s building is unsafe and several fire code violations created an imminent danger to the school’s 300 students,” according to a published report.
Operating at the site of William Carey University located at 1530 Elizabeth Street, the Celerity Exa Charter School got word on Tuesday that all students and staff members need to stay out of the site as long as several life-safety violations are still there, officials said.
There is no permit by the charter school to have an educational facility at the site, according to a determination made by Pasadena Fire Marshall and Fire Chief Calvin Wells, said department spokesperson Lisa Derderian.
Derderian added the site also does not have an automatic sprinkler system, does not have a fire alarm system and it would be difficult to evacuate the building in case of an emergency because there are not enough exits and exit lighting.
Derderian also said it would take the school in all likeliness several months to fix all the problems and bring the building up to code.
No one from Celerity was available to speak on the school’s behalf on Tuesday, according to the report.
In addition, Derderian said the department learned of the violations via a call from a concerned parent.
Classes were allowed to finish on Tuesday, Derderian said, adding some of the students in lower grades had their classes moved from the basement of the building to the auditorium.
The charter school, which opened in the fall of 2012, serves students in kindergarten through fifth grade. It is operated by Celerity Educational Group, which oversees several charter schools throughout Southern California, as well as in Ohio, Florida and Louisiana, according to the report, and this site is chartered by the Pasadena Unified School District.
A spokesman for the district, Adam Wolfson, said on Tuesday that parents with students at Celerity are welcome to bring their children back into a district school.
Brian McDonald, the district superintendent, sent Celerity Educational Group CEO Vielka McFarlane a letter on Tuesday notifying them the school must rectify the violations within one week, according to the report.
“If within one week you are not able to locate a safe and appropriate school site to ensure that the students’ educational program is not interrupted, we ask that you suspend your operations for the 2014-2015 school year,” McDonald wrote.
McDonald added in the letter that the charter school was in violation of education code.
(Shel Segal can be reached at ssegal@beaconmedianews.com. He can be followed via Twitter @segallanded.)

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