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.



Filed Under: Rancho Santa Fe Featured


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  1. Jaime Lecole says:

    How does the state find in favor of 50 out of 50 items to fund a start up grant? – Big surprise! It’s not really looking & these charters are counting on it (all the way to the bank – Nubia, Ivy Academia, etc.) Shame on California. Fiscal oversight in this state is appalling. Taxpayer dollars wasted all over the place. Carlsbad doesn’t need more schools. It has plenty.

    “Audit: US oversight of charter school funds lax”
    By CHRISTINA HOAG | Associated Press: The education department’s Office of Innovation and Improvement spent $940 million from 2008 to 2011 on charter schools, which are autonomously operated public schools. Most of the money is funneled through state education departments, although some is given directly to charter schools.

    The funds are administered through competitive grants aimed at helping launch new charters and replicate successful charter models.

    The inspector general said the innovation office has not given proper guidance to states on monitoring the use of the money and does not have policies to ensure that states corrected deficiencies when they were found.

    Additionally, the audit, which was conducted by San Francisco-based education research company WestEd, found that the office did not review expenditures to ensure they met with federal disbursement requirements.

    The office has agreed to beef up its procedures to track federal funds and ensure states are adequately overseeing charter schools, the report said.

    WestEd also examined state charter oversight policies in California, Arizona and Florida, which collectively received $275 million in federal funds for charter schools from 2008 to 2011.

    Among the findings:

    In California, which has received nearly $182 million in federal charter grants from 2008 to 2011, auditors found “significant weaknesses” in charter oversight, such as school reviewers being unqualified to conduct on-site school visits. One reviewer felt “awkward” conducting site visits because of a lack of knowledge and experience, the report said.

    California Department of Education spokeswoman Tina Jung said officials in Sacramento had just received the report and were reviewing it, but she acknowledged that the department had been aware of oversight deficiencies.

    “Even before this review, we recognized the need to build our monitoring capacity, and that effort has already begun,” she said.

    • John says:

      I agree somehow we have these strip mall Charter Schools, and there are loop holes to getting a Charter School in a strip mall or a bad one to exist. California Charter School Association would also agree some Charter Schools should not be in existence, and they are working to close those down.

      Oxford is not that school and the petition was the same and CUSD and SDCOE just falsified their report like someone else mentioned because they can. It is not that they are better and wiser then the State Board of Education they just have a high interest to keep Oxford out. If you own Coke and Pepsi wanted to exist but had to ask Coke first what would Coke say if they held that power? That is the easiest way to sum it up. To put a Charter Petition before the State Board and have it pass via the State Board is not easy, they are strict since they are the overseeing agency.

      So that should give you some comfort after you read the article you mentioned. Oxford has gone through the proper channels to exist and is very successful, so they have earned the right to exist, you can not say that for all Charter Schools and that is a flaw in the system.

      As far as parents fighting to bring in a Charter School to Carlsbad this is the best in the State, so these are wise parents who are fighting for the right school for your community. Not many communities get Charter Schools that already have a history and track record at least you are guaranteed a great school, unlike those communities that are taking a chance it works out with a start up.

      Good Luck Oxford!

    • My Child's Advocate says:

      You know what i say shame on..The Teacher’s Union! Over 1 mil. spent on prop 8, what for??? So that when they need a favor from a politician they can say “I scratched your back now you scratch mine.”
      1Mil. dollars that SHOULD HAVE, not could have, that should have been applied to our educators & our students!!
      Look at what we get now in CUSD increas class sized 34 students K-2nd, 36.5 students in 3rd-8th 46 or 48 in the H.S.
      Look what Unions did to Detriot…”The Land of Unions”.

  2. vaterfair says:

    shouting poster-wielding crowds. guess that’s what you learn at OPA?

    • P. Willardson says:

      If OPA does offer this kind of education to students, then no one would want to attend this school. If no one wants to have their kids attend OPA, then why such fighting going on to keep them out. Reality is CUSD and EVERYONE in Carlsbad knows, THOUSANDS will want to attend OPA- or any other GOOD charter schools. This is why CUSD will spend $$$$$$ to “protect themselves from charter schools” This is fact, this is the reason why CUSD and its board did not rent out Magnolia to Julian charter school for $450,000. They would rather accept $250,000 from a PRIVATE SCHOOL. Don’t kid yourselves, they knew that if a charter rents out any facility from them, the waiting list would be miles long. Don’t believe me, try asking them to rent out a space for any school and see what they will say. STARVE THE BEAST THAT IS CUSD and CUTA, sell your houses that are under water and move to another district. It will only gets worst from here. It’s too late, the can of worms has been opened, charters will come into Carlsbad. Maybe not this year, but they will. The force is great and strong. Doesn’t matter how much lies and distortion of facts Claudine Jones and Ms. Angry Kym S#@$%)*!!w does.

  3. My Child's Advocate says:

    Funny how State can find Oxford to be a sound education and award them a 375,000.00 start up grant. Know why a crowd was shouting b/c it was lies provided by a staff & CUSD that says it’s not sound, b/c how can you run 2 schools over 2 1/2 hours apart from each other and get exccellent results AND still operate w/ a 5% reserve budget EACH year. Were as CUSD has it’s board members living here in C’bad except for Mrs. Lovely she lives out of district and they can’t manage their budget. we are operating in the red and next year 2013-2014 school year CUSD per their meeting in March will be firing 11 teachers and increasing class sizes 34 kids in K-2nd, & 36.5 in 3rd-8th. And FYI their was a comment praised re: Aviara Middle school, just incase you missed marches CUSD board meeting a parent stood up talked about the Staff at aviara middle school and how they (the teachers) bully the kids there, the paent approached the principle there and was bullied enough so that he went to the board meeting to get them involved to look into the matter. So if you want to send your kids to a school that just teaches them how to bully others instead of being prepared for the next level of their education go ahead. B/c they won’t be ready for the real world b/c we are changing and becoming more global, and if you wen tot he City Hall meeting you will have heard the gentleman stand up and say our collage grads & H.S. grads are not being hired b/c they are not prepared for a global world…go to C-bad’s City hall website watch the video I believe it was March 15th.
    OXFORD out preforms CUSD by a 168% in all subgroups, those w/ IEP’s you aren’t looked over you are excelling there, socioeconomical differences excel, latino’s/hispanic subgroup they excel, they don’t just get by, and CUSD has an average of 5.6-10.9 above state level where as Oxford is a 45% high above state requirements. So as I explain to my 1st grader do you want 5 pieces of bubble gum for 5 cents, or 10 pieces of bubble gum for 4 cents…b-c Oxford offers more then CUSD w/ a smaller budget, and still comes out w/ extra money!
    One reason for the denial was that they didn’t offer a reduced lunch, BTW charters don’t have to, but,think about it, uniforms decrease your cost (there is data proving such) & you’d beable to provide a sack lunch for your child b/c you aren’t having to keep them up w/ the latest fashion trend & their focus is more on their studies not what they “don’t have” to fit in.
    And the volunteer hours asked by OPA, you mean to tell me you couldn’t help w/ an after school function? Father Daughter dance? Picnic in the Park?, Im ean there are a lot of parents that don’t volunteer just a handful, and I bet if OPA got a handful of parents like our school it would be fine.
    Please educate yourself go to the State Dept. Of Education, and don’t look at just the API’s look how weel they are impacting our students b/c the Similar school rank shows a 2 meaning 20% of the population of the students is grasping the material, some are a 4, so a 5 some a 6, only 2 are a 9 & great for them, but 80% of our schools in CUSD are an embarrassment.

  4. Carlsbad parent says:

    Everyone, the state board of ed. is also required to review the exact same petition that was submitted to district and county. They are not supposed to make a decision based on parents’ desire. A state appeal hearing will take months before it would be placed on the agenda. The next school year will have already started.

    Teachers and admin should be monitoring students’ behavior. At AOM, that is exactly what happens. Teachers and admin are from bullies. They have top notch staff!

    “The state approved all criteria….” interesting article above. Just because OPA says something, it doesn’t mean it is fact.

    I am well researched! As far as volunteering and lunch students, the point being made is that will deter the population that needs this charter school the most from applying, which it has in Chino and MV.

  5. Eric Beam says:

    I do not normally post internet comments, but I want to make an exception to address a few things.

    The grant in question is called the Public Charter Schools Grant Program Planning and Implementation Grant. I will post a link in another post, as I suspect that a first-time comment with links may get flagged as spam. This link will provide you with ample information directly from the California Department of Education (CDE). In particular, the Request for Applications (RFA) outlines the specific scoring rubric and criteria.

    The charter approval process and the PCSG grant program application are not designed to be identical. The information is essentially the same, but they are different in terms format, length, and style. I strongly believe that the overlap of the two is high enough for such discrepant conclusions to raise concern. This is not the only metric where these discrepancies occur.

    The parent group fighting for OPA does their best to do their research and due diligence to understand and communicate information. I commend their efforts in their willingness to tackle the more technical stuff. My comments at the hearing and meeting were highly edited due to time constraints. I am willing to clarify any statements that I have made and/or discuss our program and charter with anyone who wishes to learn more in a more appropriate venue. Now that they have voted, I would love to give any board member a tour of our schools so that they may witness the true reality of an average lesson on an average day with their own eyes. I will not even ask them to openly admit that they are witnessing a comprehensively designed, sound, and well implemented educational program that can meet the needs of all students.

    Secondly, I would also like to challenge large aggregate studies regarding charters whether they support OPA or not. We would like to be evaluated on our own merits. Charter schools have a very high level of variance from state-to-state and from school-to-school. This is why they are disproportionately represented in both “Best of…” and “Worst of…” lists. In fact, outside pressure often targets successful programs more than the under-performers. For this reason, I personally commend CCSA’s attempts to close under-performing charter schools.

    It makes me sad when I hear some parents and educators claim that our results are primarily due to our student population sample and a failure to serve ALL students. They demean the hard work and progress of our students. Even worse is that these statements reveal that the claimants have already predetermined an achievement limit for students who are English Learners, minorities, poor, or have disabilities. ALL students deserve to be surrounded by adults that do not have these predetermined assumptions on their potential. They deserve to be surrounded by adults whose only priority is to nurture and reveal every ounce of potential that they possess.

    This is my first year working at OPA, and I have never previously worked in charter schools. My faith in this program is full and sincere. In fact, all of my efforts for OPA-Carlsbad are as a parent volunteer. My work week is very long and full with my duties as a special education administrator. I only introduce myself as an employee of OPA so that I am being upfront about my two roles.

    I have full confidence that time will show how much of our students’ success is the result of a great team partnering with families to implement a great program.

    I am truly blessed to be a member of the OPA family as an employee.

    I will not back down until my children are even more blessed to be OPA Champions.

    Eric Beam, Ed.D.
    Director of Special Services

    • Carlsbad Parent says:

      Mr. Beam,

      First, I want to thank you for giving your point of view in a respectful, professional manner.

      Second, in no way did I want to allude to the fact that OPA does not put all their efforts into providing top notch education for their students. My point was that “the type” of student at the two sites are favorable to CST results and API just as the top performing schools in San Diego County (La Jolla, Carmel Valley, Carlsbad). Yes, all groups of students need top notch educators who support their learning.

      A lot of the comments and positions of OPA supporters are undermining the work that CUSD staff is doing on a daily basis. CUSD has parents that are super involved to those that want to basically drop their kids off somewhere. The teachers and staff work hard to beat any barriers that prevent students from learning.

      If there is a further appeal, isn’t the state going to look at the charter application the same way as the district and county did?

      Didn’t board member Anderson not to endorse OPA but support parents fighting for their kids?

      Aren’t the state stats on similar schools and performance misleading? Some of the similar school comparisons are actually not similar.

      I, and many of the other parents hope that EVERYONE will put their efforts in their schools to achieve what they are looking for.

  6. Eric Beam says:

    The direct link to the CDE website for the PCSG program is at

  7. SoccerDad says:

    This article sure is misleading. The UT article points out that Mr. Anderson said in no way is this an endorsement to Oxford. His vote was supposed to be a symbolic gesture to urge parents to fight for education.

  8. FreeChoiceParent says:

    Some of these posters sound just like Greg Robinson in what he told me during the break at the board meeting. He told me that the charter school numbers are not really what they seem and suggested I read a book written by a professor whose research allegedly proves correct. A professor whose loyalties are with teacher’s unions no less. The monumental huberus displayed to me personally by Hartley and Robinson was pretty disappointing. I told them both that the public school’s days are numbered with the vastly increasing interest in charter schools. You don’t see school district auditoriums packed with people demanding more public schools be built. So I tell Robinson and Hartley that what you are seeing here with Oxford is Henry Ford, and all I keep hearing from the district and this Board is how thankful we should be to even have the privelage of riding a horse and how the car will never work, the data is incorrect. Sue Hartley interrupts me and asks, “how old are your children?” I tell her 2 and 4, she then says to me, “well then you have no idea how the Carlsbad school district works, now do you.”

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