The Coast News Group
Standing before a crowd of OPA supporters in teal, Robert Lehmeyer, an OPA board member, advocates at the appeal hearing that the San Diego County Board of Education approves OPA’s petition to open a charter school in Carlsbad this fall. Photo by Rachel Stine
Lead Story News

Board hears charter school’s appeal

CARLSBAD — At a hearing before the San Diego County Board of Education on March 18, Oxford Preparatory Academy (OPA) representatives claimed that its petition to open a charter school in Carlsbad was misrepresented and denied unjustifiably by the Carlsbad Unified School District (CUSD).[amt_override]

OPA spokespersons urged the board to follow California Education Code requirements and approve its petition, while district staff maintained that the charter petition raised unmitigated concerns.

The district initially denied OPA’s application to establish a three-year charter school for 800 to 1,000 students grades kindergarten through eighth grade in Carlsbad in late December 2012.OPA currently operates charter schools in Chino Valley and South Orange County.

Still aspiring to open the charter school for the 2013-14 school year, OPA is in the process of appealing the district’s decision before the county board.

“The district hasn’t approved a charter in its history and has no clue how to do it,” said OPA’s attorney Greg Moser at the hearing. “The technicalities that the district is throwing up are really a smoke screen.”

One of the more heavily debated issues at the hearing involved the school facilities requested by OPA in Carlsbad.

Districts are legally required by Proposition 39 to provide facilities for approved charter schools to operate.

Because OPA requested facilities near Interstate 5 and state Route 78 in its petition, the district would be required to provide facilities at the Buena Vista Elementary School campus.

Providing OPA with such space “would require the forcible displacement of hundreds of students,” said CUSD Superintendent Suzette Lovely.

“The law may say that you can take these students and displace them, but I’m concerned about the heartbeat of that community,” said county board member Mark Anderson.

Moser countered that regardless of these concerns, the board has to follow the law and pressed the board to consider what was best for Carlsbad’s students.

“You can talk about the heartbeat of the community, but you have to think about what is right for the individual kid,” Moser said.

One of the primary concerns previously expressed by the district was the racial and ethnic diversity of the student population at the proposed charter school, claiming that the diversity at OPA’s current schools is lower than the schools in the same districts.

“We believe the district misinterpreted our racial demographics by law,” said Dr. Eric Beam, OPA’s director of special services. He insisted that because OPA students are selected on a random lottery system, the school administration has no control over the school’s demographics.

“It’s not fair to compare one school with hundreds of students with a district with thousands of students,” he said.

County board member Gregg Robinson expressed concerns that OPA’s lack of a reduced school lunch program and required parent volunteer hours would dissuade some economically disadvantaged students from entering the lottery for enrollment.

While district officials didn’t respond to the issue of racial and ethnic balance within OPA’s student population, they did question student interest in attending an OPA charter school in Carlsbad.

Lovely stated that OPA submitted “inflated enrollment projections” as part of its petition. She explained that when principals at the district’s elementary schools called parents to verify the amount of interest in OPA enrollment, the interest levels were far lower than asserted by OPA.

OPA spokespersons emphasized that their current schools have waitlists that are hundreds of names long.

OPA representatives and parent supporters further claimed that the district’s surveys were misleading and improperly conducted.

Amy Hagen, a CUSD parent and OPA supporter said that the phone call from her child’s principal made her believe that if she expressed interest in OPA, her child would not have a space at the CUSD school next year.

“This notion that the district can go and survey the parents goes beyond the legal requirements. We believe this is an intimidation factor,” said Moser.

The district also raised issue with OPA’s lack of financial audit reports in its petition and questioned the quantity and qualifications of the teachers who expressed interest in teaching at an OPA Carlsbad location.

OPA representatives emphasized the schools’ solid financial standing, pointing out that it had already been awarded Public Charter School Grant Program funding for a Carlsbad location for more than $1.5 million.

The board will consider OPA’s petition and the district’s considerations and make a decision on the charter school at its next meeting April 10.


Carlsbad parent April 9, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I, and many others, are happy to see that the county is recommending not to approve this charter. They had a countless number of reasons; more than the district even found. Any further appeals would take months.

Now we can focus on improving our existing schools. A positive attitude from all parents is the right place to start.

Kim August 28, 2014 at 11:50 am

I am curious, you made a very general, sweeping statement in that the Board had plenty of reason to turn down the charter, yet give no fact based reasoning. Please explain.

Carlsbad Parent April 1, 2013 at 6:28 pm

If the county does not except OPA. OPA will go to state and the state of California has already granted OPA Carlsbad grant money. So OPA will come. After reading all the replies, there is only one negative Carlsbad parent and lots more OPA supporters!!CUSD has major financial issues. They need to refresh their business minds and look at how they are doing business. We the people of Carlsbad pay a lot for our houses and a lot to live where we do. We have a right and a choice to where and how our money is spent. It is our hard earned money. I have done a lot of research into CUSD and OPA. I support 100%!! Go OPA Carlsbad!!!

NCountydad March 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Actually, an ability to reach out to traditionally under-served populations is a reason.

By their own research and report, Carlsbad USD cited the achievement gap between Latinos and the rest of the district as the biggest obstacle to mandatory A-G as a graduation requirement.

Please reference the document entitled, “The Road to A-G – Agenda Item #27” on the Carlsbad USD Board Agenda website.

Slides #5, #6, #12, #14, #16, #20, #21, & #26, well… the entire report actually.

They are basically asking for a loophole to still graduate students that do not meet A-G requirements so that they don’t completely tank their Latino graduation rate.

Carlsbad parent March 28, 2013 at 11:52 am

To Renee Culp:

I am not choosing for you. Not sure how you came to that conclusion.

Sorry that YOU believe CUSD is a sinking ship.

As for the numbers, they counted me as one of the parents intending to enroll when I was told the form was to receive information only. I am one of many in that situation and one who answered “NO” when the principal called.

Oxford prep is unnecessary for this community. Look up why charter schools existed in the first place.

Charter schools have a place in the educational system.

Not this one, and not now.

[email protected] March 28, 2013 at 4:47 pm

CUSD is a sinking ship. Have you been to their recent board meeting? LOTS of angry parents with regards on how the district have mis-managed funds.

So you are saying that ALL those parents who signed the meaningful interest forms for Oxford did not read what they signed? You mean to tell me that you gave out all your personal information, your children’s names, address etc… and not reading what was on the form? What about the parents, like myself, who completed the form downloaded from Oxford’s website, and faxed it in?

Charter schools, specifically Oxford Prep does have a place in the education system. It is obvious that the demand for Oxford is high in Carlsbad. Parents in Carlsbad are well-informed enough to know that they do not believe the intentions of CUSD. For you and your family CUSD schools are the best options. For me and my family, I support and would like to have my child be educated by Oxford Prep.

Carlsbad Parent March 28, 2013 at 9:13 pm

I have attended.

It is not obvious.

CUSD does have finance problems. OPA will exacerbate that. Apparently, you are fine with that as long as your children have what you call “the best options.”

The form was on a clipboard on my way to the car from my kids’s school. I believed “the solicitors” when they told me it was for information. I was interested. Anyhow, a lot of parents did say “no” to calls confirming intent to enroll. How do you explain that? I spoke to about 30 other parents and all of them stated there was no pressure from the principal and that they were surprised by being part of the count.

Can’t wait for this to be over so we can focus on improving our existing schools!

Angela W March 28, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Taken from Carlsbad Patch

“CUSD Listed as District that ‘Might Have Trouble Paying Bills’ in Coming Years
Carlsbad Unified School District is among nine school districts in San Diego County on the state Department of Education’s list released Monday of those that might have trouble paying their bills in the next few years.”

By Deanne Goodman Email the author March 5, 2013

All this will be over once Oxford Prep. is Carlsbad and parents can CHOOSE to send our kids there . That’s when it will be over.

Carlsbad parent March 29, 2013 at 7:39 am

Already have seen that. Carlsbad will be able to meet their payments. That is just a VERY UNKNOWN forecast. Carlsbad self-certified themselves “with trouble paying bills.” Problem is made worse when OPA could take money (if they are approved, unlikely).

All parents have choices already. There are schools all around North County to choose from, since NONE in the district fit the needs of your children.

Parent4Choice March 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I would be thrilled to have Oxford Preparatory Academy come to the Carlsbad district. There are many parents with struggling students that need another choice in education. Not all students can thrive in the public schools, and parents should be given another option that can provide alternative approaches to education. They are now forced to go outside of the district to charter schools or to private schools. Please give us this choice in Carlsbad!

No more $, or excuses! March 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I support Oxford, I support choice. I support all children getting a great education. If our district leaders, state leaders had not run this district and state into the ditch we would not have parents demanding change.

I believe the county board will see through the propaganda the district has used, it is the same thing at every district that doesn’t want a charter. Luckily there are laws in place to protect them from such nonsense. Societies change when communities of people are not happy, Unions live and EVENTUALLY die by that rule, business’ stay open or close as well. Bankruptcy is not just for individuals anymore, cities can claim it and so can school districts. Too many parents start their children in the CUSD and then pull them out, I assume for them it is better to leave the craziness since to change it seems impossible. What we see happening now, all out battles between well intentioned parents. So stop the finger pointing already, people are clearly on a side, so let the County decide, then if they get it wrong let the State decide but let the bickering end!

As far as change and parent choice, parents should pull their children out if they seek an education along with their religious beliefs, or one that is talent based music or art (although I think that really should be available) but that should be the only reason to leave a public school. There are too many people moving their children into a religious based school. If you pay taxes you should not have to pay thousands to go a private school, the ones that are not run by churches are generally more expensive so many just can’t afford to go to one that is not run through a church, if they can afford some sort of private education. At this point I would be there too if I could afford it because of the quality of education and the spending in the CUSD. This is a national movement, the country is going broke, the state is going broke, the county is going broke, the district is broke! So how do you fix it?

You let those who have better ideas come into help, in other words let evolution take place. Societies improve when it is allowed to evolve, improvement come out of necessity and when societies can’t evolve or improve then they will destroy themselves, fight themselves from the inside out, what you are witnessing first hand at the CUSD.
How many more ways can the the traditional public school system prove to you that they can not control our children’s education? There have been to many costly errors and my children’s education is now officially suffering. We have given the “traditional school system” everything they asked for time, more money, chance after chance, now it is our turn to have a say. Choice and Charters! *Good Charters!

Thank you Oxford we look forward to Oxford becoming apart of our community!

Julie_Stans_4_ALL_Students March 23, 2013 at 7:18 pm

There are the jaw-dropping claims of people who don’t support Oxford are just smoke screen. Nothing more than that.

Charter schools cannot come into a district to take over any campus or facility. If there is enough interested parents, then the district provides a facility to adequately accommodate students who would otherwise attend a district school. It is not up to the charter school to make this decision. Now, the district can claim inflated enrollment by telling parents they have enrolled their parents at Oxford when they signed the meaningful interest form.

Let’s talk statistic: Buena Vista does NOT currently have 400 students. BV have 286 students at the campus. The fate of BV campus rests in the financials status of CUSD, NOT Oxford. How does a district justify leaving BV open with enrollment remaining stagnant for the last 5 years! This is taken straight from district’s website.

School Year Enrollment
2007-2008 282
2008-2009 287
2009-2010 255
2010-2011 276
2011-2012 286

As a tax-paying citizen, I support and welcome Oxford into our community. I support, as Claudine Jones did at the district meeting April 2012, the closure of Buena Vista campus.

Carlsbad Parent March 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm

You claim to stand for all students but by supporting a school closure in favor of another, you are not.

Latest figures have Buena Vista with 302 general ed and special ed K-5 students. There are about another 80 or so pre school students. Your numbers are from CBEDS that is done in October.

Supporting OPA people are the ones you who are presenting smoke screen. Anyone will get you to believe in something with great stats and numbers to support their cause. In this case it is to expand their charter business (I am referring to those individuals who salaries this supports, Roche and co.).

I think the county board saw the inappropriate attitude presented from OPA supporters at the hearing. Denial will be upheld.

Jeremy Manier March 25, 2013 at 11:19 am

The inevitable closure of Buena Vista will be the end result of the district’s mismanagement of tax payers money. CUSD will shut down operations of BV, regardless of a charter school. By having a charter school come in to Carlsbad, CUSD and the rats in district office will blame them for the cause.

One thing is clear, Oxford Prep is here in CUSD because the parents within the community pulled them in. Oxford, or any other charters cannot exist without the demand and support of the parents.

We all know that the county board saw through the jaw-dropping lies of the 5 supporters of CUSD who spoke.

I, along with a GREAT number of Carlsbad parents, support Oxford Preparatory.

Carlsbad parent March 25, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Except that they are jaw-dropping truths….

Your GREAT number is grossly exaggerated!

Renee Culp March 27, 2013 at 11:43 pm

What is the issue here? If CUSD and Claudine Jones do not believe there are any parents who would send their children to this great school that provides the highest quality of education for our their children, then why are they so worried about it coming to Carlsbad? If the number are so “grossly exaggerated”, then this school simply cannot and will not exist. From what we have researched, this school does have the astounding data to back their claims. If this is not what you want for your children, stay away. Who are you to tell me that I am not allowed to have this school as a choice? I do not feel like any of CUSD schools provide this level of education for my 2 young children. At the end of the day, it is about me choosing what is best for my children, not what you think is best for them. Again, my choice. No one is forcing you to enroll your children, stay with the sinking ship that is CUSD. My choice is Carlsbad Oxford Prepartory Academy.

SaraL March 23, 2013 at 10:10 am

When I went to the parent information meeting, one of the things I came away with was that the culture of the school – and the way teachers incorporate the pedagogy – is consistent from classroom to classroom and grade to grade. This means no matter what class your child is in, they are being taught via the same approach. I also liked how much more efficiently charter schools are expected to run financially. They must be solvent, or they are shut down. The more I learn about Oxford, the more I believe this is public school as it should be run. As a parent with children in the CUSD, I hope they are approved.

Patricia March 22, 2013 at 1:28 pm

All the school districts are making cuts, now Encinitas. Look at what is going on Los Angeles, look at Chicago Schools, the writing is on the walls and we are getting plenty of warning signs. We as parents can either bring in a solution, one the district doesn’t want, or we can be part of the problem and gracefully accept that the district if left on its own they are running our schools into the ground financially. The entire education system is broken that is why the need for Charter Schools everywhere to get out from underneath a failing system. So which side if the fence are you on? Look outside of CUSD at what is happening all over the state and country this is a national problem not just a local one.
I completely support Oxford in Carlsbad!

Tanya P. March 22, 2013 at 10:30 am

Looking forward to Oxford helping turn this district around. Watching my tax dollars spent on buildings and lawsuits, makes me sad that one program gets cut so a building can look pretty. Prop 30 helped pensions not my child, when can we have a school that is run fiscally responsible? I am glad that parents are happy at their local schools, ours is Ok but doesn’t provide the programs at the elementary level.

As a district we are poor and it is starting to show, so yes we do need options and a charter school, for our district and our city. As far as taking another hit, the district will continue to take “hits” running the way it is spending money. As parents (adults) we pay our bills we know we should not take from Peter to pay Paul and if you do the result will be a financial disaster. CUSD has taken for Peter and never paid Paul. But we have remodeled schools, new schools and what do our children have?? Are teachers more secure in their jobs? CUSD can’t borrow or take anymore money so they have to change. When a community wants a charter school that is the final straw that the district is in trouble and parents have given up. We want the option to get off of the sinking ship.

I will speak for myself and family, we want a choice a real choice Oxford, not shuffle to another campus hoping it is better then the last.

Thank you Oxford for coming into our community and giving us a chance!

Marilynn Gallagher March 21, 2013 at 4:22 pm

What a relief, County is done! one more step and we are in!
OXFORD is gaining momentum!

IF YOU ARE waiting for Sacramento to redesign funding avenues for CUSD you are living in dreamland. LETS get a proven k-8 school in here right now (OXFORD) that can help kids!

The district needs a wake up call! to reevaluate how they are spending money.Just Yesterday CUSD was sued for 800k for money owed to the construction company that built CBAd hight> YOUR dISTRICT ALSO APPROVED 1.7 million in changes to CBAD HIGHT, and YES, YOU (TAXPAYER) PAID FOR IT. No matter how you look at it, more money is going out of the education pie for your kids becuz of poor decision making.

solution starts with Oxford they provide public funded education for all demograpahics as well as language art and PE!

take a tour get educated…at,

Carlsbad Parent March 21, 2013 at 10:48 pm

I’m excited and waiting for the NO decision that the county will make in support of the correct decision made by CUSD.

Everything expressed (above)is your opinion. You are making an opinion that OPA is a proven school. If OPA only had low performing students, would we be hearing about their out of this world API? CST scores are a small piece of what makes up a good school.

As for funding, interesting that you would support CUSD taking another hit financially with a charter school.

I have taken a personal tour and visited the website and originally filled out a form. I WAS NOT intimidated by my principal. I got simple straight forward questions. I was shocked that I was being counted as part of the intent to enroll by OPA since I was told the form was to receive information ONLY. As far as what I observed, the school provided nothing far beyond what my kids’ school provide. I do not need to do excessive fundraising at OPA. I will support my local schools!

Charter schools have a place in education, but not this one and not right now.

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