Castle Hills city leaders deny request for startup French school to open within city limits

CASTLE HILLS, Texas – Castle Hills City Council voted to deny the application for The French School of San Antonio to open within city limits on Tuesday.

The school only needed a special use permit, which was supposed to be reviewed by the council and the zoning committee together.

Shortly after the City Council meeting began, some council members questioned the legality of having the joint meeting. They then voted to approve the zoning committee’s previous denial without hearing resident input.

The vote was 3-2, with aldermen Clyde McCormick, Lesley Wenger and Douglas Gregory voting against.

Mayor Tim Howell is asking the city’s lawyers to see if an open meetings act was violated.

“I have never seen a situation where the residents were signed up to speak and not allowed due to a parliamentary procedure," he said.

The founders of the school, Estelle De Olivera and Katia Edrenkina, are on a crunch to try to find a new location, so they can request state permits to be ready to operate by August.

"This will be a new option for San Antonio parents. It's something that hasn't existed before," Edrenkina said.

"In our school, we will not only teach language but also culture. We will have teachers who are native speaking," De Olivera said.

The school will begin with pre-K and first grade and eventually expand to offer classes for students up to fifth grade. It will have a French curriculum, with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards.

School founders expect to have about 40 students. The school is teaming up with a Castle Hills French restaurant to provide lunches for the students.

Following the vote, the founders are now turning to another city for a request to open the school.

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