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. Don't tell me what I don't need says:

    I find it unbelievable that ANYONE has the right to tell me what I need or don’t need. I am a long time Carlsbad resident who has paid taxes of every kind over many years. I have earned the right, as a Carlsbad resident, and tax payer to tell everyone that I DO want a CHOICE. There are no inter-district transfers from the San Marcos Unified Schools to the CUSD. And honestly, even if there were- I am not sure that I would take it. I am excited about the possibility of Oxford Preparatoy Academy coming here. I have read amazing things and seen the passion of the parents who are involved. I like uniforms and working with parents who are active in their childrens’ education. I want my daughter to get a better start in Science than my other daughters did. I want her to learn Spanish. I want her to have the best possible opportunity for a solid education. I feel that for our family, this would be at Oxford Preparatory Academy Charter School. So please, if you are satisfied with your decision- that is great for you, but don’t let misinformation about how the process works lead you to think you have the right to tell me what I may or may not need.

  2. FreeChoiceParent says:

    Let me be amongst the first to head off a mountain of monumental lies, distortions, and innuendo that will follow this article. There are many out there who are deathly afraid of the success Oxford will bring to Carlsbad. They have a kingdom to protect. Oxford’s numbers don’t lie. Speaking of numbers and lying, the San Juan Capistrano school district last year felt so threatened by the success of OPA they launched a shameful attack with an investigation into the API score of 993 for the OC Oxford. Not only was Oxford exonerated of the charges, the school district sealed the findings, which OPA had to sue for public release and SJCSD to subsequently apologise.

  3. FreeChoiceParent says:

    To all those who will play the race card…

    The L.A. Times ran an article citing the California Schools Guide, in which Oxford Chino earned a 10/10 on the diversity ranking. This means Oxford Chino is the most ethnically diverse.

    This is a fact, and is is without dispute.

  4. Carlsbad Jim says:

    Go OPA!

  5. FreeChoiceParent says:

    I would suspect most, if not all, of those who are posting negatively about OPA have not seen the program for themselves. It is absolutely without a doubt amazing. I have been a cop for well over 10 years now and the kids I saw in Oxford nearly brought me to tears. They were the antithisis of so many of the kids I see frequently in school. Their level of respect was shocking. Their confidence was inspiring. I felt everyone on each class was engaged and excited to be there. They have a 99% attendance rate!! I left there knowing none of those kids were going to leave that environment later in life and becoming my problem.

  6. FreeChoiceParent says:

    The level of parental envolvement is one of the aspects of OPA which I believe is amongst the core of its success. You have a self-fufilling prophesy situation going on. A large group of frustrated parents who are concerned about their children’s education get together and fight, and I mean fight (ask any founding parent of Chino or OC) for a better way. With anything you fight so hard for, with victory comes a sense of ownership and investment. You feel comraderie with the other parents who sacrificed so much with you, the time, signature gathering, meetings, time spent on blogs dispelling rumors, etc. That is what I want to be a part of. I saw that myself when I toured Oxford. I saw parents there volunteering, and the pride in their accomplishment was palpable. Their encouragement in us to keep going on the get Carlsbad approved was motivating. Once you achieve victory in fighting for something you believe in, you are less likely to allow that victory to slip from your grasp, hense, the continued follow-up commitment I saw with the founding parents. Truely amazing.

  7. Support education choice says:

    You know in this day and age you would think that the public would be smarter to look beyond hear say and really find out the truth about where the money goes. You would think that the public would look for the truth instead of listening to people twisting words around. If one would just look and ask questions you would find all you need on Oxford the truth about how much it is needed and they will not hurt the community. Oxford would set higher expectations for the other schools in the area, which consist of more than api scores. What is one choice for one, may not be for another. We should just be supporting each other. Yes, yes OXFORD for choice and higher education, operating at a low cost, and thinking of the children of our future.

  8. FreeChoiceParent says:

    Let me address a previous poster…Oxford is needed in Carlsbad for a host of reasons. One of which being that Compton Unified elementary schools scored higher than three schools here in Carlsbad, I will not name. As to the petitions…I stood out in front of an elementary school on several occasions and was up front with people. I did not dupe people into signing, and I know others did not as well. I can tell you from first-hand experience, when I called some of those back who signed, I was told “Take me off that list, you got me in trouble with my kids’ principal” and “I was told by my kids’ principal she would give me any teacher I wanted next year if I took my name off that list.” Sound fair?

    What we have going on under the surface, as evidenced by what I have seen in the tactics used by Carlsbad teachers in the verification of signature calls they made last year, is two-fold:

    On one hand, there is a fear of retaliation to one extreme, and the enticement of, well I will call it “reciprocity” to the other. Either way, the second point becomes my prediction of the future of Oxford in Carlsbad:

    We will get this school here. I have always believed that and I believe reason and logic will prevail. We have truth and irrefutable tangible evidence that will win the day. Until then, many people will be silent until we have an actual physical campus and Oxford is open for students. People are simply too afraid to risk popping their heads up and placing their kids on the school district’s radar. That’s what I heard in my phone calls. No one is going to leave the security of the cliff until they actually see the hand that saves them. Understandibly, people are hesitant to take a leap of faith at this juncture.

    But believe me, when we are open for business, watch how fast the woodwork will be seeing a psychologist due to sudden onset depression brought on by lonliness! But it’s ok, they will be just as welcome as the heavy lifters.

  9. Choice in Education says:

    Carlsbad needs Oxford Preparatory Academy Charter School! We should have this wonderful school as a CHOICE for our children! Anyone who disagrees should take a tour at the already existing Oxford campuses in Chino and South Orange County. If the CUSD school board was really working to do the best for our children and their education they would visit the campuses as well. After seeing the ACT that CUSD school board has put on, i cannot believe these adults are in charge of our education here in Carlsbad. I have been appalled at their tactics!! As parents, DO YOUR RESEARCH and do not rely on our school board to do your thinking for you. You will see that Oxford Preparatory Academy will be great asset to our community!

  10. FreeChoiceParent says:

    Well, it seems to me if CUSD truely believed this was an inferior school, they sure didn’t want to give us the opportunity to fall on our faces and once and for all prove them right. It’s simple, they know it will cause the flood gates to open. I predict people will be fighting to get their kids into Oxford once it is open.

    The admission process is and always has been a blind lottery. There is no consideration given otherwise.

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