Renaissance Academy Charter High School was a public charter school in Los Angeles Unified School District. It was originally located at 881 Alma Real Drive, in Pacific Palisades, California, and its final location was 5431 West 98th Street, 1 mile east of Los Angeles International Airport and half a mile from the city of Inglewood. RA High first opened in September 2004, and lost its charter in July 2006. Renaissance Academy has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. This school has served in students grades 9-12 from all over Los Angeles county, while most of its students resided in Topanga Canyon, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Venice and West Los Angeles.
Renaissance Academy was formed by a group of teachers, parents, captains of industry and administrators from Palisades High School and surrounding areas. They were unsatisfied with the performance of public high schools and decided to create a new charter school. The following are some arguments that motivated the creation Renaissance Academy.
The large student populations of local public high schools do not suit the students individual learning requirements. Students show improved academic performance in smaller classes, with close personal relationships with their teachers. A later starting time will help to curb sleep deprivation in students, which increases their performance in school and overall well being. Regular block class schedules will allow more uninterrupted time to concentrate on each subject. The school originally opened in mid-September 2004, in a suburban office building in Pacific Palisades.
881 Alma Real Drive:
Renaissance Academy rented out space on the first and second floor, and made extensive modifications to build classrooms and school facilities. The building landlord alleges that in the floor plans presented prior to the construction of Renaissance Academy, the area was designed for only about 200 students; the number enrolled was nearly twice this amount. Due to safety issues regarding maximum occupancy requirements, many classes had to be relocated to the adjacent Palisades Recreation Center and library, as well as numerous additional spaces rented. Alternative locations have included Mort's Deli in Pacific Palisades, Palisades YMCA, Aldersgate Retreat Center, Art Institute of Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades Community United Methodist Church, as well as various hotels and private residences.
1901 South Bundy Drive
Renaissance Academy rented a warehouse in an area zoned for commercial use, constructing walls to divide the area into classrooms, offices, a restroom and auditorium. The building landlord alleges that the agreed upon terms of renting the warehouse were for office use only.
Additionally, the Los Angeles department of building safety never cleared the campus for earthquake and air quality safety. To expedite the opening of its new campus, Renaissance Academy reinforced the steel structures in the already up-to-date building, and had independent air quality test performed, which showed that the building was safe to occupy. Despite never receiving the permits to operate a school on the premises and open the building to students, the campus was opened in late September, only to be evacuated by the Los Angeles City Fire Department after four classes. The opening the campus to students without proper building safety permits and subsequent forced evacuation of the school attracted the attention of major news networks, who spoke with students outside the building.