Charter school makes appeal to county board

Charter school makes appeal to county board
Dr. Eric Beam (at podium), OPA’s Director of Special Services, argues in favor of an OPA charter school, which was denied by the Carlsbad school district. The Charter has since made an appeal to the county. Photo by Rachel Stine

CARLSBAD — Claiming that its petition was not given fair consideration, OPA (Oxford Preparatory Academy) is appealing to the San Diego County Board of Education over the Carlsbad Unified School District’s denial of their petition to run a charter school. 

OPA, which runs charter schools in Chino Valley and Orange County, will present its petition and appeal before the board at a public hearing Feb. 13 in hopes of opening a charter school in Carlsbad for the 2013-14 school year.

“Despite what the district says, we (OPA) still have a very strong parental demand in Carlsbad,” said Dr. Eric Beam, OPA’s director of Special Services and primary spokesperson for the Carlsbad petition. “We know that we have a very sound charter petition in education that would benefit the community.”

Citing doubts about OPA’s ability to meet half of state Education Code requirements for charter schools, the district’s Board of Trustees denied their charter petition last December..

“We were very concerned about OPA’s ability to deliver on the instructional program and the fiduciary responsibilities that are required under the law,” said CUSD Superintendent Dr. Suzette Lovely.

OPA’s proposed charter would establish a three-year charter school starting with the 2013-14 school year. The school would operate kindergarten through eighth grades for 800 to 1,000 students.

OPA has requested to operate a facility near the Interstate 5 and state Route 78, and therefore would most likely reside on Buena Vista Elementary School’s campus.

A team of district administration reviewed OPA’s charter petition, and determined that it met eight of the 16 elements required for a charter school by the state Education Code.

Among its primary concerns, the CUSD review team concluded that the charter petition would have a disparate impact on minority students, lower socioeconomic students, students with disabilities, and English Learner students.

The district team also found that the petition did not adequately describe how OPA would achieve a racial and ethnic balance in its student enrollment reflective of the CUSD population.

Additionally, the team stated that the petition did not adequately explain how OPA’s governing body, based in Chino Valley, would effectively oversee a school over 80 miles away in Carlsbad or how it would cover the start-up costs of opening a charter in Carlsbad.

The team’s findings were presented to the board during a public action meeting on Dec. 5, 2012. After taking directive from the CUSD review team, the board heard final public comments and made its decision on the charter petition.

Dozens of parents and teachers spoke out in favor and against the charter school at the meeting. Some argued that CUSD students deserved a choice of schools, while other speakers stated that CUSD offers excellent schools and claimed that OPA selectively chooses its students.

OPA representatives were not allowed to present on their proposed charter or answer questions raised by the board during the meeting. After over an hour-long presentation by the district’s review team, OPA administrators were granted five minutes each to speak only during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Beam said that he and other OPA staff believe that the CUSD was determined to deny its charter petition from the start and did not portray the petition fairly.

“(The district’s) request for a response for several questions (about the petition) pretty much told us the reasons why they were planning on denying this in advance,” said Beam about the petition’s initial review by the CUSD. “There was no meaningful program or meaningful dialogue about our program beyond what was on the (petition) paper.”

He said that contrary to the CUSD review team’s findings, OPA would specialize in meeting the needs of underrepresented students, including special needs students and English Learner students.

He also said that OPA had a great deal of interest from teachers wishing to apply for positions at a charter location in Carlsbad.

Lovely maintained that OPA’s charter petition was reviewed fairly without bias.

“We (CUSD administration) went through (OPA’s petition) very methodically, and we spent an inordinate amount of time to make sure we looked at everything objectively,” said Lovely.

She said that because the district evaluates charter petitions with state standards, there is no possibility of prejudice in the review. “The district really has no option but to follow the Ed Code,” she said.

Lovely also said that OPA was granted a fair opportunity to present their proposed charter during the review process.

Two members of the district review team met with Beam and another OPA representative to address matters within the petition before reaching a conclusion, according to Lovely.

The review team stated that it spent over 200 hours assessing the petition.

Furthermore, the district board’s governance policies do not allow them to hear presentations directly from petitioners during internal review processes or public meetings, she said.

Hoping to have the district’s decision appealed, OPA has submitted its original petition and supplemental materials to the county.

“We also hope to clarify some misinformation that the district used in their denial,” said Beam.

Both CUSD and OPA representatives will give presentations on the charter petition before the county at the 6 p.m. public meeting Feb. 13.

The county will then make a decision on OPA’s appeal at its next meeting in March, according to Lora Duzyk, SDCBOE’s assistant superintendent of business services.

Over the past 11 years, the county board has heard five charter petition appeals, according to Duzyk.

Literary First’s charter in El Cajon was approved, while three petitions were denied and the last was withdrawn.

If OPA’s appeal is approved, the charter will operate under the countyinstead of the district.

If the appeal is denied, OPA has the option of appealing to the state.

“We have faith that the county or if necessary the state will judge the petition fairly,” said Beam.

“I would hope that (the SDCBOE) would honor the findings of the (CUSD) staff and uphold the board’s decision on the charter.

“We’re confident that our findings are accurate,” said Lovely.


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  1. Janice V. says:

    We are so excited that Oxford is going the distance. When I did my own research on Oxford it is clear that the district clearly mislead us in their findings. Oxford got a 50 out of 50 when audited by the state, so clearly to say they do not meet all 16 requirements in not true. Plus I just heard they got a start up grant for the opening of the Carlsbad school of over 500 thousand, in order to get that grant they had to be a very well run school those are not easy to get. So for those of us who were suspicious in the beginning do like I did and do your own research the only conclusion you can come to is that the CUSD was untruthful to say the least and think as parents we will accept their lack of integrity through out this entire process. Plus I am sorry the BV parents are being upset since the district wants them to believe OPA is targeting there school. I think the district should give them a school that has API scores going down or that is so bad that parents are given the option of going to another school and the district will bus them there, yes we have school like that in our district…check it out for yourself!

    • Carlsbad parent says:

      This charter school is absolutely unnecessary in this community. Most parents residing within the district agree. The petition that OPA asked parents to sign was grossly misleading. The interest is not at the level OPA is claiming there to be. All parents have the option to choose schools other than the one designated by boundary. Each one is unique in programs offered. OPA is not bringing anything to the table that at least one of the sites isn’t implementing already (a site with a very high API in Pacific Rim, languages of study at Jefferson, a very thorough arts program at Hope, to name a few). Multiple intelligences is not a novel concept and is innately considered when developing lessons and units of study. Why does OPA really care if this school opens here? What is the benefit for them? Everyone claims it’s a public school but it doesn’t exist yet. I don’t my tax money going for yet another school!

      • Another Carlsbad Parent says:

        Carlsbad Parent,

        I’m a little confused by your argument against Oxford. Are you saying that my children can go to multiple schools? My children currently can’t receive foreign language instruction, a great art program, and a school with amazing API scores. They would have to choose one of those. Well, guess what? They can get all of that at OPA!

        By the way, Multiple Intelligences is not a novel concept. You are right. It just isn’t being implemented effectively in our schools.

      • LanaKing says:

        @Carlsbad parent
        “Everyone claims it’s a public school but it doesn’t exist yet.” Are you sure you know what you are opposing???

        For parents like myself who do pay taxes and mello roos, I would like another option in public education, other than the district schools. If you feel it’s unesscessary for you, don’t enroll your children. There are plenty of parents like myself who will.

        There is a strong support for Oxford in Carlsbad. Like with anything, there are the ones front and center with Oxford, and there are those who are waiting on the sideline waiting to jump in, and they will.

      • More4carlsbad says:

        Carlsbad Parent, I am assuming you are a Pac Rim parent and you are lucky you have fabulous API scores more money for programs etc…that is one school. Once you leave that island see that other schools have dropping API scores have dramatically cut programs and are being taken over by other agencies to get them up to standards, or they are on the verge of being taken over. THERE IS a lot of support in Carlsbad, if you are happy then that is awesome, congrats. But we will not be paying for ANOTHER school it will be a school with Carlsbad students taking their rightful money with them. Your money will stay with your child at the school you are most happy at.Our school board lied to us and why they did that I don’t know. I have never seen adults act so morally corrupt but that is the CUSD take it or leave it. I like others choose to leave it.

  2. baseballDAD says:

    First and foremost, I want to say that I do love CUSD schools and I am proud to be in the district and I support having Oxford Prep. I believe that OPA will be a positive addition to the CUSD. This is not a new school, OPA’s got 2 other campuses that soared to be #1 in their counties! It comes down to having another option of high-quality education available to Carlsbad, serving Carlsbad students.

    @ Carlsbadparent, perhaps you might not prefer Multiple Intelligence, then it’s not the right school for you, and that’s ok. Please do research before commenting. I would like this option for my children.

  3. OPA’s value to the community of Carlsbad is undeniable. PLEASE show me a school in Carlsbad that does all the things OPA does and scores as well as they do. It’s all about having another choice. Isn’t that what AMERICA is about? The freedom to choose? Please don’t take this away. If the school is not for you, that’s okay, but let others make the choice if it’s right for them. Sadly, the Buena Vista Parents are sorely misled. Buena Vista has been bleeding for a few years now, the threat of closure has been looming long before OPA came into the picture.CUSD just needed someone to blame it on and they used OPA for that. Buena Vista parents disdain for OPA is totally misdirected. Look at all the facts and don’t base your judgements on emotion.

  4. I think a lot of people are succumbing to the myths of what a charter school really is. Here are some common myths of charter schools:

    MYTH: Charter schools are private schools.
    REALITY: Charter schools are public schools open to any child, free of charge. They offer options to families that may be dissatisfied with their local schools, but cannot afford private school.
    Choice is a powerful tool for parents seeking educational equity and equal access to quality education for their children. Read more Frequently Asked Questions about charter schools.

    MYTH: Charter public schools accept only the “cream of the crop” and reject underperforming students.
    REALITY: Unlike exclusive private schools, charter public schools do not recruit and select “the best” students. When enrollment requests exceed the number of seats, charter schools are required by law to hold a public lottery to determine who will attend. Because they are free and open to all, charter public schools do not engage in selective admissions policies.

    California charter schools serve a large number of students traditionally considered to be low-achieving or otherwise “at-risk,” educating some of the state’s most underserved students, allowing them to achieve success where the conventional system failed to do so. Research shows that charter schools educate diverse students of varying aptitudes.

    MYTH: Charter public schools do not provide special education services.
    REALITY: Like all public schools, charter schools understand their responsibility to serve all students, and charter schools are committed to serving students with exceptional needs. In fact, because charter schools are designed to have more flexibility than traditional public schools, they are uniquely situated to provide innovative, high-quality educational services to students with unique learning needs. Find out more.

    MYTH: Charter public school enrollment does not reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
    REALITY: Like California’s population, charter school students are incredibly diverse. As of the 2010-11 school year, 45% of state charter students are Hispanic/Latino, 33% are White, 11% are African American, 4% percent are Asian, and 5% are other (Indian, Pacific Islander, Filipino, Multi-racial subgroups).

    MYTH: Charter public schools take money away from public schools.
    REALITY: In California, public school funding follows the student, with the funding going to the public school the parents choose, whether a charter school or a traditional district school. When charter public schools are funded, there is no overall loss of public school money because charter schools are public schools. However, even with the funding “following the student” charter schools receive less funding for each student than a school district would if it were to serve the same student.

    MYTH: Charter public schools receive more money than district public schools.
    REALITY: In most cases, charter schools receive LESS federal and state money than district public schools, for a variety of reasons. For instance, charter schools do not have the same access to local parcel taxes and bonds as traditional districts and often have to pay to rent facilities out of their operating funds. Charter schools have also been particularly hard hit by the state budget crisis because they are not able to access low-cost financing as school districts can to help address state deferrals. Find out more.

    MYTH: Charter public schools are not held accountable for academic performance.
    REALITY: Charter schools, unlike traditional public schools, are academically accountable on two counts. They are held accountable by their authorizer (usually the local school district) and, most importantly, by the families they serve. When a team of school developers submit their charter petition, they must define their academic goals In order to be authorized, their goals must be rigorous. In order to stay open, they must meet or exceed those goals. Families make the choice to enroll their children in charter schools, and families can remove them if they are dissatisfied with the school. A charter school that neglects its academic duties will soon find that its enrollment has dwindled, as well as its budget accordingly, and major changes may be necessary for the school to remain open

    MYTH: Charter schools operate without any oversight.
    REALITY: Charter schools must operate within the provisions of state and federal law. They must abide by health, safety and civil rights laws, and cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex or national origin. Charter governance bodies are subject to various business regulations, such as ethical financial practices, and public body rules, such as open meeting laws. Charter schools also have oversight from their authorizers (usually the local school district, county office of education or State Board of Education). In fact, the very name charter refers to the “contract” that the school enters into with their authorizer. Authorizers review financial reports, have the authority to conduct audits, determine if the school is to be renewed at the end of the charter’s term (usually every five years) and can revoke a charter for certain reasons within charter law if the school is not meeting the terms of its charter.

    MYTH: Charter public schools are an unproven experiment.
    REALITY: The incredible growth in charter schools – nearly 1,000 schools serving more than 412,000 students, as well as long waiting lists for most charter schools – suggest that families believe charters to be a common sense solution to their education needs. As outlined in CCSA’s Portrait of the Movement, for families in urban centers, charters represent a beacon of hope – charters serving low-income populations are much more likely to be high-performing than non-charters serving low-income populations. Read about more academic successes that charter schools are having.

    MYTH: Charter public schools are a fad.
    REALITY: Families of the more than 484,000 students in California are enrolled in the state’s 1,063+ charter schools would not call charters a fad. Charter public schools are an important part of the state’s public school system, providing a space for innovation, educational opportunity in low-income communities and unique curriculum options. Charter schools have been reinventing public education in California for nearly 20 years and most Californians, according to public opinion research, consider them a “bright spot” in the educational landscape.

  5. Carlsbad Parent says:

    All I have to say is do the research yourself. My kids go to a high API school with money and I was still absolutely blown away by what amazing things I saw at Oxford Preparatory Academy Chino. It just opened my world to what children should be getting at school. Like I said I come from a school with a high API and money. Hands down no comparison to what I saw with my own eyes. Three things that stood out to me were the critical thinking skills observable in every area of CA standards, the amazing exposure to language, history, technology, science and music all intertwined with the grade level curriculum and lastly the amazing culture of creativity and that every child can strive to higher education through hard work. I ask the SDCOE to please take all the excuses off the table i.e. politics, unions, fear, thinking there is loss of control and emotion. Then please I ask them as higher education professionals to vote on truthful, honest and objective data. With the state of the California school system in dire straits, even with Prop 30 passing, I would think other choices would be a necessity to think out of the box.

    I encourage other parents to stop listening to all the emotional drama and go do the research on your own. That is what I did and I was literally blown away. I brought a retired public school teacher and administrator with me when I toured the Oxford Prep in Chino. She asked tough questions to the Oxford Prep Chino principal. I wanted a very knowledgeable higher educational professional with me to observe things I might not see. Basically after our tour this individual I brought said to me, “EVERYONE WILL WANT TO SEND THEIR KIDS TO THIS SCHOOL AND I AM IMPRESSED”. Again do your own homework and you will be amazed with Oxford Preparatory Academy Charter!!!!

  6. Carlsbad parent says:

    I’m actually well researched on charter schools and schools in general. My example about the different school sites only mentions ONE of the many great programs at each of the sites. I am not a Pac Rim parent either. Multiple intelligence concept is going on in every school.

    I already knew about all of the myths and reality. However, you didn’t mention that it is still a new school that has to be established where is not needed.

    We do not need another school draining our resources.

    I am well aware that this is not a private school. It is just a resource drainer to the existing public school system.

    SOME parent want this choice but not most. Look at the survey results of those that initially signed the petition.

    Fact: Most parents that will apply for “other options” are those of higher demographics.

    I have done a lot of research on this ISSUE and that is why I was compelled to speak up.

    I believe in school choice IF AND ONLY IF there is a need. That is where we will probably differ in opinion!

    • letsgetalong says:

      OK, I see so can you then tell us who says the school is not needed? Have you researched and compaired your school or the district in general to the similar schools ranking?

      Also you are lucky if you have a teacher who is correctly using the Howard Garners theory, but in all my years with my kids in school I have never seen it or heard about it, or seen it in action. When you do get to see the campus you would see how much more they get and you think you are getting but our schools don’t compair. It is much better to bury your head in the sand pretend our schools are fabulous, or leaders in our district are wonderful and truly looked into Oxford and decided it was not a good school. Although the state would differ with them.

      Then how is it a money drainer? CUSD is running on a huge deficiet, Oxford has 5% reserve positive cash flow and you see that in the standard programs the kids have at OPA verses the cut ones in CUSD. OPA don’t have one school that is better then the other because the PTA or Friends of Pac Rim raised a bunch of money. They have keyboards, full time science teachers with a full time science lab, music, martial arts and it goes on and on and that is not based on how much extra money the PTA or Friends raise. They run the school with less money then our traditional schools. How they do that and our district can’t is the question. So for someone like me who wants this school PLEASE tell me how this will drain our school district. If 700 Carlsbad students (and the money follows them) go to OPA on a Carlsbad school site, nothing changes, plus OPA leases the property from the district for a large amount of money which our district needs. Plus OPA got the start up grant of 575K. So again how will that drain any money out of Carlsbad district or effect you and your child who stays at the school you chose?

      The school is needed here once anyone sees that your child can get a better education and better way of educationing children is possible, you want it. We don’t need to settle for what we have regardless of socio economics our kids deserve the best, just because we are a middle class to upper class city doesn’t mean we don’t need or deserve the best education our tax dollars can buy. As for the lower socio economic families in our community look at the statistics and Oxford does a much better job educationing them then Carlsbad, so they deserve it too.

      Sounds like everyone on here will have to agree to disagree. Then when Oxford gets here they can prove those of us who want them here we were right, if they fail miserably then those of you who don’t want them are right. But they have never gone into a district or community and failed they only inspired and challenged the districts to do better. So we can all win and that is the goal here!

  7. mimip says:

    Let’s talk about draining our resources. Please drive by Sage Creek on any given night, what do you supposed the cost to have that hugh campus lit every night?

    Not needed, says who? Suzette “not so” Lovely? Why don’t you go and ask the Hispanic population at Jefferson what they were told by the school principal and staff. These parents were told that OPA will deport them, they were told they will not be allowed back at Jefferson. The scare tactics is unbelievable. Who determined that there is not a need for OPA? You and the PTA president, CUSD staff? Well, the parents of Carlsbad, regardless of race, income or neighborhood where we reside believe OPA is much needed in Carlsbad.

  8. Another Carlsbad Parent says:

    Carlsbad Parent,

    That is exactly where the difference of opinion lies. You believe there is not a “need”, yet many parents do. If you’re content by what you see going on in Carlsbad schools, good for you! I certainly am not. Am I being greedy because I want my children to have foreign language, science lab, PE, music, and art several times per week? I don’t think so. Do I want to prepare my children to be competitive in the future? Absolutely!

    I believe there is a “need” for better schools. It doesn’t make me content to know that 77% of Carlsbad schools received a Similar Schools rank between 1-5. Am I sick of having poor teachers that are tenured and therefore cannot get fired? Yes!!

    I would like to know your research on how Oxford will be draining the Carlsbad district.

  9. AlyssaT says:

    “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark” Hamlet act I, scene 4 (In this case, CUSD)

    Ms. “Not So” Lovely stated that she counted on her team who spent over 200 hrs to review the charter petition and found that Oxford did not meet the Ed Codes, 8 of the 16 elements. And that her review team were objective.

    Perhaps CUSD and staff follow a different set of Ed Codes than the State’s Board of Education. SBOE gave Oxford 50/50 score and approved start-up grant. Hmmm.

  10. Lookatthescores says:

    GO TO GREATSCHOOLS.COM. They are an independent agency. Enter your school. Click on test scores. Scroll down look at the graph for similar schools.,,then enter OPA, look at their scores, especially their non whites. they blow Carlsbad away. Anyone who does not want the ability to send their kid to a better school is not educated. CUSD will make excuses for why there should not be a charter school, it is up to us as parents to do the research and decide what is best for our children

    Just this year, Carlsbad unified started charging money to after school programs in the district. It is a travesty. The good ones are gone, cuz the classes cost too much money. Now, their “fundraising arm called CEF is trying to take over all of the afterschool make, yes thats right, MONEY> is all about money, who gets who spends …it is not about your kids.

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