LOS ANGELES — Three Los Angeles charter schools received a new lease on life from a county board after the Los Angeles Unified School District didn't renew their charters.
The county's Board of Education renewed the three Magnolia Public School charter petitions last week.
The LAUSD had denied them, citing financial concerns.
LAUSD ordered the Magnolia charters to close by the end of the school year, but charters have the option of appealing to the county board and then to the state board for oversight if local school districts turn down charter petitions.
The county board will now oversee operations at the charter school.
The vote impacts Magnolia Science Academies 1, 2 and 3 in Reseda, Van Nuys and Carson.
Magnolia operates 10 campuses, including eight within LAUSD's boundaries.
The three schools have 1,400 students enrolled of the 3,800 students taught by Magnolia.
Academy 1 in Reseda was built using $6 million in bonds issued through the California School Finance Authority in 2014. The bonds have a BB rating from S&P Global Ratings.
Magnolia received scrutiny after the Turkish government accused it and some other U.S. charter schools of providing financial support to the failed July coup in Turkey. The country's strongman president, Recep Erdogan, used the coup's aftermath to launch a wide-ranging purge of perceived political enemies throughout Turkish society.
The schools' leaders denied involvement with the coup.
The charter school chain has faced criticism for years for hiring large numbers of Turkish nationals for teaching and other staff positions, a practice Magnolia officials say they have abandoned.
LAUSD's board did not discuss an ongoing investigation by the district's inspector general into Magnolia's practice of hiring Turkish immigrants before making its decision at an October board meeting. It focused on the lack of transparency and financial problems at the charter chain, which Magnolia officials say are being rectified.
As part of its agreement with the county, Magnolia will enter into an additional year of oversight by Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team, which helps California local education agencies fulfill their financial and management responsibilities by providing fiscal advice, management assistance and training to further strengthen their financial controls, policies and procedures.
"Our faculty and students worked hard each and every day to earn this renewal," Magnolia CEO Caprice Young said in a prepared statement. "We look forward to partnering with the county and continuing to provide a challenging college-prep public education to families in the communities we serve."
In the decision, county school board members cited Magnolia's efforts to strengthen operations and finances since Young, a former LAUSD board member, was named to the charter school system's top slot in January 2015.
"We have three schools before us that are clearly serving a large number of students. They're getting a really good education. Better than they could get from the other choices in their neighborhoods. To me, that is a huge, huge piece of what we consider when we have renewals like this before us," Katie Braude, a county board member, said in her closing statement.
Board members said they'd like to see Magnolia fill the three vacancies on its board with local community members and be responsive to their requests for information, one reason LAUSD cited for denial.
"It's gratifying to see that LACOE [L.A. County Office of Education] took a deep look at Magnolia's impact on student learning and rightly renewed all three schools. While it's unfortunate that LAUSD let politics interfere with its evaluation of these schools, the appeal process exists for a reason and it worked," the California Charter Schools Association said in a statement after the vote.