County board denies charter school

County  board denies charter school
OPA supporters who attended the San Diego County Board of Education meeting on April 10 held up signs with messages including, “We will not back down,” and “Sue Hartley, you represent ALL of North County, not just CUSD staff and its board members.” Photo by Rachel Stine

CARLSBAD — In front of shouting, poster-wielding crowds of OPA (Oxford Preparatory Academy) supporters, the San Diego County Board of Education (SDCBOE) denied OPA’s appeal to open a charter school in Carlsbad at its April 10 meeting. In December last year, the Carlsbad Unified School District (CUSD) Board of Trustees unanimously denied OPA’s original application to open a charter school for kindergarten through eighth grade students.

OPA’s application and subsequent appeal of the CUSD Board’s decision to the SDCBOE inspired a debate that has pinned school choice against standing by public schools.

Citing the fact that some of the SDCBOE members’ children attend charter schools within the county, Carlsbad resident Ami Calhoun said to the board, “By denying OPA, you are saying that your children deserve a choice and mine don’t.”

“This is not just a rubber stamp denial,” said Dr. Eric Beam, OPA’s director of special services, addressing the board. “You have to look at these parents in the eye.”

“I understand why you doubt the district, they have an interest in the status quo,” said Board Member Gregg Robinson, addressing the audience, many of whom urged for OPA’s approval during public comments.

Yet ultimately, Robinson, along with Board President Sharon Jones and Vice President Susan Hartley, composed a majority vote to follow their staff’s recommendation to deny the charter school’s appeal.

A committee of San Diego County Office of Education staff reviewed OPA’s charter petition and concluded in a final report to the board that the petition presented an “unsound educational program” that is “demonstratively unlikely to successfully implement.”

OPA currently operates two charter schools, one in Orange County and the other in Chino Valley, which have achieved API scores above those of CUSD’s high-performing schools.

San Diego County Board of Education Member Mark Anderson (third from left) is the only board member to vote in favor of Oxford Preparatory Academy’s petition to open a site in Carlsbad.  Photo by Rachel Stine

San Diego County Board of Education Member Mark Anderson (third from left) is the only board member to vote in favor of Oxford Preparatory Academy’s petition to open a site in Carlsbad. Photo by Rachel Stine

Board of Education member Mark Anderson opposed the staff’s recommendation and voted in favor of OPA’s appeal.

“I see this energy, I see this power, I see this force that you are putting into this,” Anderson said to the present OPA supporters as they clapped and cheered for him. “I hope that you continue to fight (for your children’s education).”

Board Member Lyn Neylon abstained from voting because she was unable to attend a public hearing about OPA’s appeal. When pressed on if she had watched the recording by fellow board members, she acknowledged that she had but still felt uncomfortable voting.

Jones was berated by shouts from the audience when she said that the parents have every ability to change the education system in Carlsbad public schools.

After the Board’s vote, the meeting’s attendees filed out, murmuring comments including, “This is disgusting,” and “I can’t take this anymore.”

“Although we’re disappointed, this is the result we expected,” said Beam.

He said that OPA staff and parents would have to debrief and discuss before deciding whether or not to appeal the decision to California’s State Board of Education.



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  1. Carlsbad parent says:

    This article is written in bias. The article did not mention the myriad of reasons why the charter was denied. It was a long exhaustive list. Reminder: Oceanside, Carlsbad, & Pomona DENIED OPA as well.

    This was the absolute correct and sound decision.

    Hopefully, parents will help improve the existing CUSD schools. A positive attitude is the first step in achieving the greatness the parents want attained. I look forward to working with OPA supporters in making our schools great.

  2. No more $, or excuses! says:

    It not biased she is just getting educated! The SDCOE and CUSD can not keep OPA out, this affects all of us both sides OPA supporters and those who did not support OPA because it would financially effect CUSD. To say they were missing 8 elements out of 16 is a lie and to see how our system is set up so that those who we vote into office are NOT the ones who get educated on what they vote on. Do you know why Mr. Anderson voted for OPA because he has looked into the truth and he knows what is right, the rest were just like CUSD puppets being told what think and how to vote. If you have no idea of the process that just took place you need to get educated on who is really making decision on your children’s behalf. Just because three district denied OPA all on the same lies does not make it true. People wake up on which ever side you fall on we have zero power as parents and BV you should be thanking OPA they are the reason you are open to keep OPA out plan and simple. All of your writing letters stuff did not do it keeping OPA out did it, don’t think you have a voice either. CUSD has you all brain washed to think that OPA wants your campus not true they would go anywhere. CUSD does not want a great charter school to come in and show all of you how a school should operate. How OPA can provide all the programs that are being cut on the same amount of money all of our schools get, OPA fund raises for trips and after school events type stuff maybe some school improvements our fundraising dollars should be not to pay for a music teacher or art or PE that is not the PTA our taxes should pay for that. The leadership and foundation that OPA is built on is why they are so successful ALL the teachers teach in Howard Garner’s Theory ALL not just one or two but ALL that is why they have such a sound education. Now as it is our PTA is funding so much more then they should we volunteer many many hours just to keep a school up and running without us parents time and money schools would crumble around here. The problem this is creating by trying to keep OPA out is that those parents that schools rely on to donate and volunteer are LEAVING, they are packing up, this has pushed many over the edge. But lets cheer on CUSD because they can’t manage money, are going to increase class size and ask you to come in and teach a science lab or art, I am not a science teacher or art teacher I am a parent! I will continue the fight for my children and all of CUSD children, please wake up to the “process” whether you agree with OPA or not you have adults in power who are feeding our community lies, in all three communities. Let me tell you this, Pomona a gang ridden city, schools failing schools, OPA went in with 20 plus MILLION dollars in support to build a K-12 and start a school for this struggling school district and they voted No, so all of you who think a place like Pomona could us a charter school but not CUSD since we are a middle class area and our schools are fine. Look at what Pomona School DIstrict did and then maybe you will wake up. They do not want Charter Schools plain and simple! As far as working with OPA supporters we will continue to work to bring OPA here and work in our kids schools, but I will not spin my wheels and be powerless like Mr. Anderson said keep going, you know why he said keep going because he know the truth and truth somehow always prevails! And yes I am angry, angry that I live in a community where my elected officials are puppets to Unions and parents think CUSD and SDCOE did them a favor, if you only knew how corrupt this process was!

  3. where are my rights? says:

    Ny child is one of the forgotten at our failing carlsbad schools. Ours is one of the ones that is in program improvement, I can choose any school in carlsbad, but why would I ..the only good ones are 10 miles from my house.

    I got an email from CEF today, that they want to charge me over 100 dollars per month to do homework assistance. As I understand it arent the teachers at my school supposed to make sure my child understands his homework, and arent I supposed to make sure he does it? Why is CEF charging parents for this. I know they are related to CUSD I am not a moron.
    The school has so many rules on the playground they cant even play tag or have swings at the school. The scores are bad and getting worse, My kid came home with a note today that he could not wear his baseball cap at school cuz it distracts from his studies and they are supposed to be cramming for the star testing. Why would you try to hamper his individuality. I thought public schools were supposed to be bastions of freedom and expression. how does wearing a hat affect studying. He always takes it off indoors. We moved here from the east coast to enjoy the great schools and the great weather. Well, at least the weather is great. the schools suck.

  4. Myriam Reyes says:

    What a sad day for the children of Carlsbad. The “findings” were completed by a paid attorney to achieved CUSD’s desired outcome. How Oxford achieved astonishing academic success with their other 2 campuses #1 in Chino, #2 in South Orange County(the #1 school you have be tested to get in) with an unsounded education? State Dept. of Education data shows OPA to be amongst the highest ranking schools in this state.

    I have a feeling Suzzette Lovely is going to regret taking this job. Hundreds of very angry parents and residents of Carlsbad. Supporters of Oxford are not going to back down. We will fight you until WE get our desired outcome, to have OPA in Carlsbad. Shame on you all! What a disgusting group of people who are supposed to stand for education. The giant light have been turn on them for who they are. Utimately, it’s about maintaining status quo and power.

  5. marilynn gallagher says:

    carlsbad parent, I am a carlsbad parent too, and I am proud to use my real name as an OXFORD SUPPORTER. I have been trying to make my school better. We spend about 3k per year on PTA and I volunteer tirelessly. I am also personally responsible for several of the programs we offer through our PTA.
    CUSD sees me as their funding source. They see my child as their guinea pig. Oh and they see my property taxes as their money pit. They dont treat kids like they are all gifted; (like OXFORD DOES) instead, they make kids Mediocre. I think one of the guys who voted last night said it best..the district would like to protect the status Quo. Aint that the truth.

    The waste and the constant threats re funding and class size have completely turned me off to believing that they can provide what I should be getting in a “first CLASS SCHOOL DISTRICT.”

    You can only beat your head against a wall for so long. I would like a chance for my wonderful children to be fully realized, not dumbed down by the school district. It is not the teachers fault..the onus falls on The district and our elective officials. They do not care about your kids as much as they care about their money.

    Maybe looking forward we could elect officials that HAVE (NOT HAD) CHILDREN in the district. Then, maybe we can all work together at making this the “great” district it was reputed to be.!

  6. Amy Hagen says:

    Dear Carlsbad,
    THANK YOU! I think we are an amazing and powerful group of parents and this process has taught me a lot. I have learned not everything is fair, adults can be very dishonest, and agendas before children, the system is flawed. BUT that all being said I am so proud of every parent who spoke up for their children and demanded the best education that a public school system can provide. As time goes on more people have jumped aboard and are all willing to speak up and fight for change and not settle for status quo. You would think we would have lost momentum after the first denial but it is just building and our energy is amazing as was pointed out last night. It will happen and Oxford will be here. For everyone I have met on this journey I am so blessed to know you!
    California State Board of Education here we come!
    PS Please if you have any questions about the current school system I ask that you watch, “Not As Good As You Think”.

  7. Eileen says:

    It is eye-opening to say the least! The San Diego County board of Education doesn’t care about kids. They care about politics and dollars. The exception is Anderson, who knew his vote was symbolic because none of the other board members cared to even do the research. It’s disgusting that we as parents don’t have control over the fate of our children’s education. The board says we have choices, but only as long as we choose one of their schools, that clearly are not working for many of our children. Carlsbad used to be known as a great school district. People would move from other cities just to get their kids into the boundaries of Carlsbad. Now, parents are leaving to find other options. The tide is changing so rapidly…we need Charter schools like OPA to raise the bar and rescue our schools from mediocrity. Carlsbad is losing that their footing as great school district because it’s very clear that they, like the SDCOE are only interested in “keeping the status quo.”

  8. Carlsbad Parent says:

    I would most definitely not give my name. However, I am not affiliated with the site that most of you are from. I do thank all of you for all that you have put in to your current community school.

    I do agree that we need new elected officials.

    I applaud all parents who care and are involved in their children’s education.

    I watched the entire portion on OPA online last night. I read the entire report about the OPA application. This NEUTRAL group of expert educators found many issues with the application. Their vote was not supposed to be based on feelings but evidence they received.

    CEF provides the music class and will be providing science lab teachers next year at the schools (elementary).

    To quote (paraphrase) another board member from the meeting: no free and reduced subsidized lunch students and parent volunteer requirements lead to a student body that is favorable to high scores and API.

    Finally, congrats to Aviara Oaks Middle for being recognized as a CA Distinguished School and helping close the achievement gap.

  9. OPA Mom wanna be says:

    This is the problem, if you read the report you were reading a bunch of lies and this “neutral” group you talk of, no way are they “neutral’. Thank you for trying to get yourself educated on the topic but you can’t based on the false report both agencies put out. If I read those reports I too would not approve OPA. What is hard for many people to accept is that people who we are supposed to trust can out right lie and worse they get away with it, we are powerless to challenge them. That is the biggest and most concerning part of this whole mess. Seriously one of the top school in the state, CA gave them a start up grant based on the SAME petition the district denied, does it make sense that they do not know how to educate children and run a successful school? Scores and programs that blow CUSD away how how can that make sense to you. Really I am telling you until I am blue in the face LIES LIES LIES! WAKE UP! This is traditional public schools scared at its finest, they will do whatever to keep Charters out that is the bottom line. CUSD, Unions whoever is scared to death and they lie because they can. SDCOE will always try and back a district, the vote was determined before it ever began the SDCOE lawyer could have read Hamlet and based on that the Board would have voted no on OPA. Neylon did not vote because why should she it was already 3-1, so why go against her board members and vote yes if she did not have too, or No and disappoint the crowd even more. It was a whimpy thing to do and I can not believe that is even possible to do.
    Parent volunteer requirements 20 hours per year per family! Can you cut out stars, then you are good! Plus if you can’t volunteer for whatever reason they can’t force you and I am sure someone else at the school would pick up your hours for you. So really are you saying that 20 hours per year per family is alot? But lets be dramatic and make it seem like such a hardship on families, OPA would not work with families, and Oh brother! As for the lunch program, that is another lame excuse, those kids eat they all eat!
    I think the frustration lies in the fact that we as OPA supporters know the true facts and can not believe in this country this actually happens.

  10. Marilynn Gallagher says:

    Carlsbad parent, a paid employee is never “neutral”. They get a paycheck for whom they are evaluating. It wasnt a handpicked jury, it was a group of paid employees that looked over the petition.

    That is kind of like saying the petition was “FAIRLY EVALUATED” by the same lawyer who dissed our last petition.
    In the HISTORY of San Diego, no charter has ever been approved on appeal in a basic aid district. We anticipated what would happen, but, the knowledge that there was One FEARLESS member on that board who is an independent thinker gives us more momentum toward the very charter friendly state. Who, by the way is LOOKING for good charters to approve, especially in districts that are declining like Carlsbad.With all of the kids who have left the schools this year, the numbers will be even more in our favor. Time will tell.

    It is OK if you accept 34 kids per class and constant bickering between the teachers unions and the DIstrict. The district was exposed last night for what it is. I cant imagine that Superintendent LOVELY felt too good driving all the way back to her home up in Orange County. I hope we are not being billed for her gasoline.

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