Laurel Preparatory Academy’s (LPA) founders, in search of innovative ways to provide a standard based education to students who will participate in a 21st Century world where technology is readily available and is mandatory to their success as citizens, developed a personalized program of online and blended learning to provide additional educational options for students. After months of collaboration with stakeholders, the LPA founders submitted the LPA charter petition to San Diego Unified School District Board of Education (SDUSD) for consideration of establishing the District’s first blended learning charter school. In May 2013 a public hearing was held where several members of the public spoke in support of this potential new charter school and on June 4th, 2013 the SDUSD Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the LPA charter. On September 9th, 2013, LPA opened its doors to students for the first time.
The School’s vision is to educate students in new ways, to serve as a prototype for reform in public education, and to set each student on a pathway to success. It is designed to avoid many of the problems students face in traditional schools by creating innovative educational environments that allow teachers to personalize each student’s education and to develop a collaborative relationship with students and their families.
LPA was the beneficiary of two grants funded by the Federal Public Charter Schools Grant Program (PCSGP), which is administered by the Charter Schools Division of the California Department of Education. In 2013, Audeo Charter School was awarded a $250,000 PCSGP Dissemination Grant to disseminate best practices to LPA’s founding administrators, faculty and staff. That same year, LPA was awarded a $375,000 PCSGP Planning and Implementation grant awarded to high quality schools to offset startup costs. Grants are reviewed by peer evaluators and are awarded to nonprofit entities and local education agencies that are likely to develop and open high-quality charter schools. The primary focus of the PCSGP is to create charter schools that will provide public school choice to students whose assigned traditional public school is chronically low performing.
Within the first year of operation, LPA received Initial Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Accreditation. Once the Initial Accreditation was approved, Laurel applied for and was granted a full University of California a-g approved course list as well as a full National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) approved course list. In 2015, Laurel began to offer Advanced Placement courses, which required its approved College Board course list.
In 2016 the California Charter Schools Association created an Academic Accountability Report in which it measured charter school achievement on three criteria in order to determine whether the School should be supported as a high quality school for renewal or replication. These criteria included “Status”, based upon student scaled scores on California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), “Growth/Post-Secondary Readiness”, based upon CAASPP growth and the school’s A-G rate, and “Similar Students”, which measures the school’s performance compared to schools with similar student population demographics. For the 2015-16 school year, Laurel Preparatory Academy was ranked “9 out of 10” for statewide status and “10 out of 10” as compared to similar schools. Considering that an average of 80% of students enter LPA one or more semesters behind in credits, this achievement underscores LPA’s dedication to positive student outcomes and the effectiveness of its work supporting the School’s at risk population.
In 2017, Laurel Prep received a 6-year clear WASC accreditation, the highest possible accreditation from WASC.