Marie Carrier, the founder of Eternity Christian Academy and senior pastor of Eternity Christian Church. (Karen Wink / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, June 14, 2012 8:22 PM
An area school approved for the Louisiana Scholarship Program may not be able to open for the coming school year.
Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake has not acquired a city occupational license, which is required to run a nonpublic school or business in the city.
ECA was approved by the state Department of Education to receive 135 voucher students for the 2012-2013 school year.
“If this is a private school, they need an occupational license. In order to get that we would require approval from the state fire marshal and the health department,” said Lonnie Smart, Westlake’s chief administration officer. “We’re in the dark. We have not had the chance to have these questions answered because they haven’t applied for an occupational license yet.”
Marie Carrier, the school’s founder and senior pastor at Eternity Christian Church, said she did not know the school needed an occupational license to operate in Westlake.
ECA, which started in Lake Charles in 2006, began operating at the Westlake location in September 2010.
Smart said the church ECA is housed within has the proper licensing and paperwork, but the school does not. He said the city was unaware a school was at that location.
To apply for a license, Carrier would need to go to City Hall and fill out an application for a temporary occupational license, which would be good for 42 days. The application requires approval from the state Fire Marshal’s Office and Department of Health and Hospitals and must include basic information about the school’s ownership.
If the school is approved, it will be issued a license good for one year. Carrier would have to fill out paperwork and renew the license at the end of the first year.
“As of now they haven’t provided us with any information. We didn’t know they existed last year, and before I’d approve them I would need to know they passed safety and health regulations,” Smart said.
Carrier said the issue with licensing will cause no problems with ECA and the state’s voucher program.
“They (the state) know they gave us a short time frame in which to operate. They know we can’t do anything overnight,” she said. “We’re taking care of it. Everything is fine with us.”
But Smart said that if the school does not work out the licensing issue soon, the city will order it to cease operations. “Before they get any voucher students, they need to be able to have students at all,” he said.
Posted By: Hammertime On: 8/18/2012
Apparently this school has made the national media for unscientific and racist teachings.
Posted By: Teresa Hunt On: 6/25/2012
Title: Correct the Problem
This is a common issue. Stop pointing fingers. Many people opening a new business do not realize until later that an occupational license is required. The city or municipality does not catch it. Once the error comes to light, the license is obtained, any applicable fine is paid and the business continues to operate. I don't think this was intentional on the part of the school or the city. When I worked as an office manager with multiple offices in all 50 states, this issue was so common in new offices that I created a checklist for new office criteria listing "Obtain an Occupational license, where applicable" as one of the checkpoints. While I am opposed to school vouchers, I also believe in fairness. If the school has engaged in a serious violation of state or federal law, if they do not meet proper accreditation requirements, if they fail other criteria, we need to focus on that. This is a minor issue that is easily rectified.
Posted By: Daisy On: 6/20/2012
This school has been there that site since the Pentecostal church left. Now wouldn't a city inspector have to inspect or o.k. new occupants? Before the tansferral of properties some sort of document must have been filed with ...THE CITY.
Come on Westlake....Could you not think of a better ...excuse? Voucher or not this school has been operating for a number of years. It's not like they are using them to open...right? They arre trying to help students who have for what ever reason given up on public schools or had public scholls give up on them. I applaud someone out there trying to help our youth. ...but Westlake get real...let's not cut off our noses to spite our faces...you've done that already...it doesn't work in the end.
Posted By: Lexie On: 6/15/2012
I cant believe the mayor didnt know I live in Westlake and passes the church and see the advertisement and have seen many signs about classes CNA, PM Classes and schools since last year WE KNEW or is about the money come on it is 2012 PEOPLE...........
Posted By: Kara On: 6/14/2012
I live in Westlake, LA and to say the city did not know really, I have passed that sign and saw different types of advertisement about school and its down the street from city hall are you serious to say you didnt know REALLY!!!!!
Posted By: Gigi On: 6/14/2012
I have to laugh thinking that the city of Westlake was "UNAWARE" of the place. Who are they kidding ?
Posted By: Darrell On: 6/14/2012
Title: more corruption
This voucher system is just going to open up a can of worms for corruption and so-called schools to open up so they can make a profit and naive parents will send their kids their thinking it's a better alternative.. If you don't know what you need to start or operate a business, you have no business in educating kids for the future.
Posted By: Irene Vandever On: 6/14/2012
Title: It's a matter of education
My concern with the voucher system and the blanket approvals which seem to be the norm is just this type of situation. How do we trust our area's children to an educator who is completely clueless as to the rules and regulations which apply to their school? When the leadership of an educational facility hasn't done the homework necessary to assure safety and compliance with the laws and regulations governing their operation, I don't think I would want to entrust them with the weighty duty of educating our children. We will be witnessing a spate of new "schools" created just to harvest the voucher money. That is not the intent,or the projected purpose of this system.
Posted By: SJ On: 6/14/2012
So since the school was opened in September 2010, that would mean they operated for two school terms without a license, right?