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. disappointedteacher says:

    I am a teacher with a masters degree who lives in Carlsbad. My child goes to an incredible private school in the area. We pulled him from public school because I was appalled at the curriculum. Worksheets! C UNIFIED & school board are not forward thinking. They teach from the bottom up instead of the top down. Our current school teaches a gate curruculum to all of the students, and that is the way it should be done. Consider all kids smart and capable, not dumb and needy.
    Right before I pulled my kid, I found out that most of the people on the CUSD school board do not even have children in the schools here; That is when I realized the public schools were not going to change, and decded I needed to make a better choice for my family.
    There is a solution, Carlsbad. Get a charter school in here like Oxford, and vote in representatives who have young children in the schools. If the schools improve, the property values go up, good companies come here to relocate, and tax monsy is abundant for improvements to existing structures.

    For Carlsbad Unified to be so scared of this charter school is the most telling sign of all.

  2. MarnieMe says:

    What is the big deal with this school coming to town? Why do you care, why do you oppose it? From what I have seen, the hostility is ridiculous. All the opposition groups signing petitions, don’t you have anything better to do? This is a win/win for Carlsbad. Work with this school to operate in Carlsbad. If CUSD is right, there will not be anyone enrolling their kids and they will and leave town. If they do open and are successful in educating students, then they will be a great addition CUSD. Why is there so much time, money and energy wasting on opposing to something that is a success?

  3. FACTONOPA says:

    I just saw the word that is being spread around our community about Oxford. Please please before you believe anything that any group is say that is against OPA do your research. They are just repeating what the board said. The district was very misleading and purposely so telling parents they enrolled their child. It was not an enrollment form so how can they ask you if you plan to enroll your child in a school that is not open yet? It was an I am interest form, if you can read you can read it is clearly on the form. I signed mine after I realize all the tricks the district pulled. Plus there were people who clearly said yes and funny when their schools results came out it was 0. So CUSD lied, plus they did not even talk to a small percent who signed the form, they only got a hold of a few families, twisted their words, and or did not count their yes. Then the money that they say will go to out of district students, FALSE. Then the diversity, where is the diversity at Pac RIm, Kelly? Just to name a few. So they completely lied about he diversity at Oxford and OXford has the information to prove it, but did they let Oxford do that? No that would have shown they are diverse and CUSD is wrong. Plus how did the state say that Oxford has a sound education and financially is sound gives them a perfect audit, plus a grant for Carlsbad and Carlsbad tries to say they only satisfy half of the requirements? Please look at the facts California says this school is perfect and Carlsbad tries to tell you they are not. Plus once I also looked into this the lawyer from Carlsbad, he dusted off his old Oceanside paperwork presented the case to our board, same ol’ same ol’ lies and our district probably paid him for that. So if you are upset with anyone please look at our district, and if you choose to believe what the group who is suppose to be standing by our side as parents are telling you why we should not have OPA they are misinformed and it breaks my heart the damage they are doing since they re so wrong about what they are saying.

  4. Another Carlsbad Parent says:

    Let’s take a look at the declining enrollment of Carlsbad schools. Parents are pulling their children from the public schools and leaving the district or opting for private schools or other home school options. I also am a teacher with a master degree in education and am appalled at the curriculum and instruction I see in the public schools. When the districts claim the eight multiple intelligences are being utilized in these classrooms, they are sorely mistaken. I am in the classrooms every week and rarely see this done besides the occasional visual and hands on project. Students at OPA are tested twice a year for their learning styles and instruction in the classroom is then tailored according to the results. There is absolutely no comparison between the instructional methods at OPA versus the Carlsbad schools. If you don’t believe it, go take a tour.

  5. carlsbad parent says:

    The hearing is canceled. Moot point!

    CUSD is not declining. Enrollment growth is projected for next year.

    Went on an OPA tour. Not more impressive than CUSD. Similar to schools here.

    I am a teacher in another district. I am well versed with school finance and education theory.

    The schools here are great!

    Not denying OPA does good work. Unfortunately, this school would take money from the general fund.

  6. me-gwen says:

    Please share which school in CUSD provide or is:

    -Foreign languages K-8
    -Music K-8
    -Science lab K-8
    -99% attendance
    -# 1 in the county
    -Multiple Intelligence implemented on a daily basis to education to state standards, NOT to test to state standards.
    -with API 993 and 10/10 in similar school ranking.

    How does it take funds from the general fund? If you are not impressed when touring the school, doubt that this claim is true, then don’t enroll your kids, no hard feelings. Stay at your school.

    • carlsbad parent says:

      I did not say not impressed (“not MORE impressive”).

      Money will be taken out based on the number of students leaving CUSD. As a basic aid district, it is even more complicated. Bascically, all students’ dollars will be reduced because some will be going to support ANOTHER school. So, my child will lose out to benefit yours.
      Have we discussed that students from other districts can take spots? My tax dollars should pay for them?

      API, test results, etc. are all related to socioeconomic status of families.

      Jefferson has K-5 all of the above. Then it continues at Valley. ONE EXAMPLE. Another, at Aviara Oaks Middle you can take Drama, Band or Orchestra, Dance PE, Photography, Art, Broadcasting, Spanish, be on Science Olympiad team, be on basketball or surf team, and with an API of 922, which is not easy to achieve for a middle school.

      Please sign petition to NOT have this school impede on our community.

      • FACTONOPA says:

        OK so how many out of district students are you talking?
        How much does each in district student get?
        Then what does the state require that of that amount for an in district goes onto Oxford, how much does the district pocket on each in district student?
        How much for each out of district student will the district loose?
        Then if a very small percent of out of district students can go to Oxford and the district pockets the money for each in district student then how do we loose money?
        The district also has the say on how many out of district students can come in and again it is a very very small percent, but when the time comes take that up with them.
        So how will if my child leaves their traditional school doesn’t get to take with them the amount they would get if they stayed at their current school, so that money stays in the district for your child then how does that effect your children and take anything away from them?

        Oh also Oxfords middle schoolers at South Orange County campus children got 1000 API score so that is not easy to do! Plus they have all the activities too!

        Bottom line here is that as a Carlsbad parent who has taken the time learned the facts and can speak and ask the questions I just asked is sad. I did not want to have to learn all this stuff, I just want the best education for my kids that my tax dollars can buy. For anyone of us parents who are fighting tooth and nail to get this school here we have seen the facts done the research and asked those questions that need to be asked. I did not want to see the truth since it would mean I would have to fight to get this for our children. I see the truth now and I am fighting armed with facts and knowledge. When you look to sign that petition read what they are saying not one is true and were are they getting their information and they can’t tell you. WHy is the state saying that on their scale Oxford is a perfect school, yes perfect, why is the state giving Oxford money to put a school here?? The state loves Oxford but the district wants you to believe that it does not live up to the state standards or ed code so they had no choice but to deny Oxford. Now if you can stop and think for one minute does that makes sense to you? Plus the district did not call ALL of those who signed the form, they got ahold of very few and made them believe that they were going to take their children out of their school if they said yes to a school that isn’t even approved or open, of course you are going to say no, so stop and think!!! DOes any of that make sense to you once you stopped and thought about it? I have spent way too much time away from my family, crying after board meetings because I can’t believe what they just did and adults who are supposed to be respected in our community can flat out lie and it involves our children. I have lost my faith in the political system and as we all fight against each other I am loosing faith that people take the time to think for themselves which makes this world a hell of a lot scarier place to live.

        Wheww! Have a good night!

      • me-gwen says:

        So what you are saying that because you found Oxford not to be “more impressive” than CUSD, the option of OPA should not be allowed for those tax payers who do want it here? Yes, that’s makes sense. You still have not given me a carlsbad school with all those things that OPA offers. Not one school. So if I want to have those options I have to enroll my child to attend all those schools all at once? Your argument is flawed. How does the district loose money? If my child leaves district schools to attend Oxford, the money (my tax $$) follows my child to OPA. And, OPA actually gets less money (my tax $$) and the remainder stays with CUSD to do with what they pleased. I can guarantee you it’s not going to apply the extra funds to district schools. So essentially, OPA can operate on less $$$ and offers more to students and parents. It’s not your money, what about my tax money going to paying for a declining education within CUSD? Why is it bad for me to have my child learn a foreign language and to have an option of learning music theory, be on the spirit squad, or drama, debating, have science lab all at ONE CAMPUS?

        By the way, the petition (what a joke) that is out there, isn’t that the same group, the I Heart Carlsbad schools, that pushed with all their might to close down Buena Vista last year??? The same group that called the 5 ladies on CUSD board “idiots” or “brainless” for allowing BV to stay open to financially drain CUSD? Yes, this group is credible.

  7. FACTONOPA says:

    Hearing is canceled moot point!

    What does that mean? Why are you assuming that works in your favor if you don’t want the school??

    Also if you were very versed on finances then explain how Oxford runs with less money and has a more effective program and more success in education all children then CUSD? Look at the stats not what the district told you.

    Also how is it that if a Carlsbad student takes their money with them to Oxford goes to a campus in Carlsbad how that takes money from the general fund? Can you give us facts instead of telling us that you know something is it a secret? If you know finances lets talk numbers those who oppose OPA can use someone who can explain the finances so they can clearly see that Carlsbad will only loose the actual students which since our classrooms are busting at the seems anyways you all should thank Oxford for taking a few students out of the classroom. The money follows the students!

    Once the truth gets out and everyone who is contributing to spreading the lies about Oxford, I hope you can forgive yourself when you learn the truth. Also forgive yourself for being taken advantage of, I am sad to see how people are upset over things that are untrue. I am sorry it has gotten to this. But I am not sorry for supporting Oxford and having a choice in this district that will someday be here. Sometimes the greatest things you have to fight the hardest for, this is worth fighting for!

    • carlsbad parent says:

      It works in OUR favor because they are not hearing the appeal.

      “More effective” is your opinion.

      Read comment above about finances.

      The students that leave will not reduce class size.

      I am not going by district facts only. I have spent a few hours looking through several websites and history on charter programs.

      There is a lot I could say…It would take hours…

      • Robbie says:

        I am sure that those websites you researched are very objective when discussing charter schools right. Since you did your research, your findings researched that Oxford is #1 in both counties they are in. You are right it is in my opinion that OPA is “more effective”. That is why I am working so hard for this. It might not be a right fit for you and your family, that’s ok. I find OPA a right fit for my children and so do a large number of parents in Carlsbad.

  8. IGAVEUP says:

    You are right it would take hours but I have taken hours to learn about the money etc. So can you answer any of those questions to help support your side of the argument? Beside just saying “it will take money away” and just cause is the answer. I had to jump in since you said read above about finances, I read that it won’t hurt the district or have the impact you believe it will. I was trying to find your proof I just don’t see it. Unless when my child takes their money with them that hurts the district. How is that it is my child money, my tax dollars the district now does not have to deal with that student anymore. How the district wastes the money that they have from the students who remain is on the district. I moved my kids to a private school so kids are leaving whether they go to Oxford or not.

    Who told you they weren’t going to hear the appeal? Oxford has the best lawyer Greg Moser handling this case, who has a great record when it comes to taking on this type of case, you can search that on the internet. Plus the California Charter Association backing them these are not first timers going before the County. I know everyone who is anti Oxford wants to believe that they don’t know what they are doing but they do and have a huge support team to back them up.

    These are history making events we are witnessing changing education for the better and change is happening, thank goodness! But we all will benefit so for the anti Oxford people, we are fighting for your kids too they deserve the best. Even if they don’t go to Oxford the district will feel the need to compete and provide better for your kids and if you like what you are getting now just wait and see it only gets better! The district doesn’t have to compete right now for students since our only option is private school and most people don’t want to pay more or can afford private, we are doing it this year but next year OPA!

  9. Another Carlsbad Parent says:

    @carlsbad parent, in regards to your claim that API scores are all related to socioeconomic status, I would like you to take a look at where the Oxford in Chino Valley is located. They scored a 972 API. While API scores are often related to socioeconomic status, OPA proves that it need not be!

    Anti-OPA supporters make the claim that OPA will cost CUSD $450,000/yr to educate out of district students. I have yet to see the research and numbers to back this up. I refuse to take someone’s word for it.

  10. YetAnotherCarlsbadParent says:

    I am watching this story with interest. As a parent with an elementary aged child, I want the best education possible for him. I recently made the choice to move him to a private school in Encinitas. If this program were available in Carlsbad, I would consider trying for a spot. This program has been under very close scrutiny lately – and they have been rising above. It is also impressing both the State Board of Education (based on the OPA website) and those posting on Great Schools (based on my own research on that site). I noticed Chino just re-upped the charter for five years…so they must be doing something right.

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