Rumors (and denials) of a rogue charter school opening next week

American Indian Public Charter School

Sometimes when I write about the American Indian Public Charter School I feel like I’ve entered an alternative reality. This is one of those times.

For that reason, I can’t tell you definitively whether an unauthorized elementary charter school will open on American Indian’s downtown campus on Halloween, as rumored — though it’s looking unlikely. I’ll just share the information I’ve collected so far.

Evidence that suggests a school affiliated with American Indian is (or at least was) slated to open two months into the school year:

– I called the receptionist at the school last week, told her I was a news reporter, and asked if American Indian was opening a new elementary school in October, as I had heard. She said, “Yes it is.”

– An OUSD mother who attended a recent informational meeting at American Indian said parents were told that a new elementary school would indeed open on Oct. 31. She’s since heard rumors it will no longer happen. But if it does, she said, she will probably send her daughter there.

– OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint said district staff spoke with Laura Armstrong, the director of another charter school, East Oakland Leadership Academy. He said Armstrong told them that it planned to “expand” onto American Indian’s downtown Oakland campus this fall. (I’ve left two messages for Armstrong since Friday, which haven’t been returned.)

– Flint said the district received a number of reports about families who said they planned to pull their children out of their schools and enroll them at a new American Indian school.

– Two teachers from Bella Vista Elementary School’s Chinese bilingual program have told me families have told them the same thing.

But then…

– Ben Chavis, who has emerged from retirement to once again lead the charter school group, laughed at the rumor that AIM would open a school in late October.  He said East Oakland Leadership Academy had spoken with his organization about leasing space from them — and that American Indian is looking to open a k-8 school next year — but that he’s opening no schools next week. He said the informational meeting with parents was about next year’s expansion.

– Chavis then put me on the phone with the receptionist I spoke with last week, who proceeded to deny that she had told me anything.

Amid all the confusion, the school district sent out a letter to families, advising them to not pull their children out of school to enroll them in an unauthorized charter school. Here’s an excerpt:

  • No existing charter school in Oakland – not American Indian Model Schools or any other organization — has received approval to expand its existing program to the current American Indian Public Charter School campus at 171 12th Street.
  • If any organization opens a new elementary school in Oakland during the 2011-2012 school year without authorization, claiming that it is a public charter school, this is verifiably false and families should contact the Office of Charter Schools at the contact information below.


“We think what they’re doing is illegal, a violation of ed code,” Flint said. “There are so many issues, it’s almost hard to list them all.”

That is, if they’re doing it at all.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nextset

    Anon: The Catholic Schools (where children were raped) as well as the major banks (Such as WaMu and BofA) both rotted because of corrupt central authority that were able – allowed to – escape criminal & civil consequences.

    I would argue that in both instances these institutions were not exactly specimens of free markets. It was fun while it lasted, though.

    I’m not giving them or AIM a complete pass. I am saying that their clients had other choices and made a calculated choice to use the particular institution because the alternatives were less appealing. It will always be so when the public schools are “schools” in name only.

    And as I’ve said before – homeschooling and the internet are huge gamechangers that are only beginning to enter the fray. We will see the rise of internet primary and secondary schools beyond anything experienced yet.

  • Jim

    Does anyone know how many 5th graders are at the school that began on Halloween? Also, is it true that there was a Kindergarten started by EOLA?

    The board of directors angle is easy as someone mentioned. When is the meeting? There should be a posting of at least 48 hours (I may be wrong).

    Katy do you know who is on their board and when and where the meeting is to take place? I would like to go and see that spectacle!

    This guy is a clown. I saw Stossel this past weekend and the looks and mannerisms of this guy makes you want to hate him! Kids doing push ups as punishments – it was all for the camera!

    I would choose the internet over this guy!

  • oaklandedlandscape

    I support quality schools. The API score is just one indicator. It is by no means the only indicator. Go visit the schools. The AIPCS schools are a sham, and are an example of how people take advantage of public dollars and relaxed accountability. In a city like Oakland, a high API will get you medals. Stay for awhile. Talk to students. Not so nice now.

    He (Chavis) will continue until the district, county, or state step in to shake him down. Until then, he will fill schools with a select demographic that knows no better. Not a criticism, but a reality. Sorry. He will have the last laugh until his practices are exposed. That day is coming soon. Oakland will be a better place.

  • Andrea

    Its starting too smell like a dead rat!

    Is it true that his wife is the CFO? Katy have you heard about that?

    I guess the spotlight should be on his Board of Directors right about now since they oversee the program.

    Maybe Ms. Armstrong from EOLA is on it? Man this is getting so predictable.

  • Andrea

    BTW EOLA and AIPCS 2 are in their renewal years. Lets see what the ousd charter office can do.

    EOLA is not even that good and BTW have you seen their website….damn! might as well not have one .

  • Anon

    What can OUSD do to AIPCS 2? It’s a school that provides rigor and discipline for those that want it. They just need to get rid of the rat.

  • Poohbear

    You’ll miss the BOD meeting. Chavis controls / coordinates them. Always has. The call in number has never been published. Also, the location says Magee or downtown, but he calls in from another location. Maybe outsiders should ask beforehand….protocol says you need to submit a card 24 hrs before the mtg.

  • Sue

    Great information!

  • Poohbear

    Doesn’t matter. Everything happens behind closed doors anyway

  • Mick,

    I herd the teachers kick out the low students, prep their students during the state test and get extra $$ for it.

    The teachers don’t have any experience teaching before they are hired at the school and he puts preasure on students for high test scores.

    The teachers and administration need to be looked into at this school. The charter schools are cheating and taking money from public schools.

  • Poohbear

    1. Focus, people. Don’t confuse Chavis with hard working teachers and students.
    2. Actually, teachers routinely stay until 6 pm to help those that were stunted by OUSD and attend Saturday school WITHOUT PAY and without a raise.
    3. There isn’t anything wrong with pressure. There is something wrong with Chavis.
    3. It’s pretty easy to teach when math class lasts 2 hours.
    4. Look at where years of experience has gotten OUSD. Your argument is weak.
    5. Teachers don’t kick kids out – parents decide their precious babies can’t handle the rigor or discipline. It is a strict school that is culturally disconnected from much of Oakland.

  • Mick,

    1.He hires young people with no teacher training.
    2.He will not allow teachers to join the OEA.
    3.He focuses on enrolling the Asian students.
    4.You blame the parents for the student who are kicked out of the school.

    I agree there is “something wrong with Chavis” and teachers for what they are doing to students,parents, and tax payers in Oakland. They should all be fired, and close the school.

  • Poohbear

    Do some research on the school, Mick. I can’t really respond to someone that doesn’t have his or her facts straight. Anyway, your issues above ( which aren’t issues if the statements prove to be irrelevant or untrue) are taking the spotlight off a crook.

  • Nextset

    As long as the families keep taking their kids there, Chavis and AIM will endure.

    Now why is that a problem? When the students and their families are sufficiently unhappy they will re-enroll in OUSD. As if that day will come.

    Move to another charter would be more likely, or homeschool, or internet school. Either way, it’s their decision not that of the critics who can’t stand Chavis.

    Rather than whine about AIM the critics had better watch the rise of the internet schools – they will be the biggest threat to urban district status quo. Remember, they don’t have to take all or most of the students. They only have to take a block of the key constituients. OUSD is already down to what % of white students? How much longer before the upwardly mobile black and brown students simply refuse to consider enrolling there because the whites are gone? Now it’s a glorified continuation school? At what point will OUSD on a resume or job application result in it being thrown in the trash? Is that already happening?

    OUSD needs to change it’s ways and out Charter the Charters. OUSD needs to open an exclusive elite/competitive application-only campus with no racial minimums and no AA. At least one. A Lowell High without AA.

  • Sue

    Mick- obviously you are attempting to distract! I agree with Poohbear….Focus people….Chavis owns the buildings, he is the CEO, and his wife the CFO?

    Where is the board information Katy…I know there are other things pressing, but could you please get us that information?

    As for internet schools; daycare costs money. Parent who work will rise up aganist that.

  • Katy Murphy

    I’m working on it! If anyone has any info, please send me an email at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Nextset, I have taught several children whose families left AIM. Again, you talk without on the ground knowledge.

    A student who has excelled at our school in academic extracurriculars and grades, and will be going to a top 4-year-college, has told me that he was humiliated every day by adults at AIM. By the end, they were just keeping him in detention all day (this is a very mild-mannered kid who has had no behavior problems here) so that his Chinese parents would finally pull him out.

    Why did they do this? Because he was different — shy and a bit spacy. He has flowered at our school.

    I think AIM has some very real and valid things to say about education — particularly that we in education and society are looking for magic bullets for a problem that ultimately required great self-sacrifice on the part of students, teachers and parents.

    On the other hand, AIM is frighteningly in love with itself, and unable to admit its excesses. To read their FAQ is to see a glimpse of smug megalomania. They say they never expel students but refuse to admit that they drum families and kids out, through harassment and intimidation — something public schools are restrained from doing with all but the most dangerous students, who they still must pay to educate.

  • Anon

    His wife isn’t the CFO. She is the accountant. AIM schools employs her for more than fair market value. It will be difficult for outsiders to receive board information, unless you directly enter 171 12th St.

  • Mick,


    If you do your “research” you will see that the teachers are young with no teaching experience, and the students are mostly Asian. This is a “fact” according to the CDE data on the school.

    Chavis and Lopez at Oakland Charter Academy go way back!! Sounds like they hire the wivies, girl friends family and crooks. More reasons to close these charter schools.

  • Poohbear

    Let’s be clear. The original post pertained to Ed code violations from Chavis. That is my issue. If we focus on this, perhaps this discussion can ecome productive. Yes, teachers are hired without experience and somehow manage to get through the curriculum efficiently. What’s your point? We’re in Oakland! If ya haven’t noticed, parents are sick of underperforming schools. Is it for everybody? No! Why even bring up OEA? Unions go against the model and in some cases have hindered school performance. Those that work at the school are pretty anti-union anyway. An update on this situation would be nice. Yeah, who doesn’t know about Chavis and Lopez? He (Lopez) had to step down from a state appointed position because his finances were not in order. Did OUSD follow up on that?

  • Poohbear

    Yeah, downtown is Asian. It’s in China town. It would be interesting to see Lincoln elementary vs aipcs 2. Keep in mind tiger mothers follow the API. The school’s application process seems hidden, even to staff. You would need to prove he is choosing certain kids over others. I haven’t heard any talk of him doing this and I have never seen evidence of this. It doesnt really make sense to cherry pick..it makes more sense for him to stuff classrooms after school starts for more money ( which is what is done). Teachers staying late + canned curriculum = results. I mean, if there is talk about opening a school for young black boys, does it bother you that AIPCS 2 is filled w Asians? I don’t need to do research… I just end up engaging those that ignorantly lump the schools and Chavis into one evil entity.

  • Josie

    Didnt Gary Yee’s wife work for the district while he served on the board?

    Just curious….

  • Director

    In a SF Chronicle report last year, Lincoln Elementary school had 77% of it’s graduating class of 5th grade students leaving OUSD…with the majority of those going to AIPCS2. In the past three years or so, no less than 50% of the Lincoln graduates went to AIPCS2.
    What do they say about real estate, as it relates to business? Location, Location, Location…

  • TKL

    There are plenty of good models which fail when replication is attempted. I believe AIPCS stands out in the small set of charter schools who seem to have figured it out. Much of they are about is nothing more than old fashioned and proven tactics (i.e. holding students back, keeping students and teacher together, etc.).
    The concerns with AIPCS are not with the model but rather with the leadership, most specifically the Board of Directors, who seem to be very hands off, and Ben Chavis, who, while he authored the Charter and is solely responsible for creating, is conflicted in his role(s) and ultimately will cause it to fail. There are real concerns over mis-use of his position to manipulate and grasp much of the funds for himself and his family.
    The AIPCS Board of directors, if it functions like a legitimate Board should, is responsible for stewardship of the AIPCS model. This would include full transparency, visibility into all activities, particularly leadership and financials. Not being above board with date, time and location of board meetings gives the impression that there is an air or mystery – something to hide.
    Several points of concern:
    – Any Board that meets only twice a year, is not actively involved or engaged, and depends entirely on those they have put in key executive / admin roles. For Ben Chavis to come back would imply that what was in place was not working, HOWEVER, there are other questions that any responsible board would be asking.
    – Ben Chavis, the person who created the AIPCS model (which DOES and IS worth replicating) will be the very detriment to it successfully growing. His known behavior of a very controlling, dictatorial style accompanied by an anger management problem will not work. This behavior may have worked in doing the hard things required for the first school and getting the model established, however, to describe him as a business many is partially true. He is a business man when it comes to his personal real estate business / finances, but does not appear to have the knowledge, maturity or polish to formally establish and lead a business that requires more than himself to oversee.
    – The questions that need to be asked, and the ones I would think the AIPCS Board would want to understand are the following. (Though if Ben’s style is everything that it appears to be, combined with a Board that only meets twice a year, they may only be a Board on paper and nothing more.). CONFLICT OF INTEREST and Boards who look the other way (or support) undermines even the biggest and best organizations.
    o His wife as accountant. WHO made this hiring decision? WHO determined her salary? WHO does her performance evaluations? When looking at the pattern of turnover of the rest of the AIPCS staff, this seems to be the only position that has not changed? Curious to say the least. While she is not the CFO, as the accountant, given that there is NO CFO, she IS the single person responsible for the $$’s. With Ben’s overbearing style as both boss and husband, how affective is she really?
    o Has there even been an audit of the books by an external third party?
    o What about separation of duties? This is something that all auditors look closely at where money is involved with any type of corporation.
    – How many roles DOES Ben Chavis have? He has been brought back in the capacity of CEO (or whatever the main title is) and completely in charge which raise significant concerns around his ultimate motives and conflicts of interest. He is the AIPCS CEO and also the Landlord (don’t forget his wife is the ‘accountant’? WHO makes the facilities decisions? WHAT was the process in choosing HIS building? How many other properties were evaluated? WHO negotiated the lease, terms and rent? The only answer to this is Ben Chavis – he negotiated with himself – is this even legal? It certainly isn’t ethical.
    – It is the above that should be scruitinized and questioned as, between Ben and his wife, they remain squarely at the table where the money is concerned.
    I believe the AIPCS model is good and could be replicated across the country, but do not see happening under the current management. If the Board is not questioning these things then they are equally guilty of allowing a husband and wife team to take a large portion of the money for themselves thru abuse of their position (Ben’s salary, wife’s salary, rent).

  • Nextset

    Cranky: Look at my post #64. I tend to agree with the Chavis detractors that he and his school will burn themselves out eventually. believe me I’ve seen it happen – where are the old Negro Schools with their Dictatorial Principals today? What did happen to Dunbar School? Can any such school survive beyond the personality on the driving force in their prime? And some of these people get quite nutty in their old age. Part of their problem is inability to delegate and inability to run a business – anything beyond their own arm’s reach. And I’m describing some relatives of mine.. Things were fine while the going was good and they didn’t have to adapt to competition or changing times.

    I’m getting off thread. Cranky – I agree with a lot of what you are saying and your handling of the Chinese kid. One size does not fit all. BUT – we know from experience that at least with the black kids, permissiveness and a romper room climate gets you nowhere. Authoritatianism works great with them. Especially in that period when you are getting them ready for military, industry and higher education. We know from experience.

    I’m not talking about neverending direct supervision. By Authoritarianism I do mean a hierarchy, a chain of command, rules. Rules with teeth. Serious Discipline and Deportment.

    And from what I know of the HBCs, authoriarianism probably needs to continue through undergrad until you have some of the students ready to takeover themselves as authority figures. I am not a fan of democracy actually. Certainly not for children and those who function as children. The HBCs are no longer known for strong discipline and deportment – such as that portrayed in the Tv series “A Different World”. So I hear anyway. They used to be run as black finishing schools. Oh Well..

    So back to Chavis and AI. When it no longer meets the requirements of the constituient families they will go elsewhere. They will vote with their feet. I make no warranty that the books are balanced or anything else. If OUSD was worth anything like it was in the 1960s we wouldn’t be having this conversation because everybody would want to be at Oakland Tech and Oakland High, etc. Chavis and the other Chavis’ only exist because of the failures of the District. If OUSD wanted to start running real schools AI would fade away.

    I suppose I still hope OUSD could change. Start up a Lowell High. Fat Chance I suppose. First thing they’d do is impose race quotas and limit flunking.

  • TKL

    Can you confirm that the APICS charter renewal is on the Dec. 14 Public Hearing agenda, and if it includes additional grades?

  • Anon

    I doubt anyone follows this anymore, but Dr. Chavis is holding a meeting now 11 AM 12/12/11. The agenda was posted this morning according to students, and there is no call in number. The address is 171 12th Street. I wonder what the game plan is for him to steal more money. In the past, board members call in from other locations and teachers are discouraged from participation. How come such a high performing school has secret board meetings? Can anyone post the next available board meeting dates, since it is legally required to be announced? We need reporters and lawyers there. Nobody can be barred from a publicly funded school or meeting, but he along with current board members do this so that decisions can be made without any attention.

  • Poohbear

    Who is in charge at the three schools ? Who is the new director? We need more contact info. Why are they choosing to work there? Searching for contac info now

  • Anon


    Nicole Merino (Director – TBD)
    171 12th St. 94607 (510) 893‐8701 ext. 7 F: (510) 482‐6002

    4) American Indian Public High School (9‐12)
    Claudia Walker (Director – TBD)
    3626‐3628 35th Ave. 94602 (510) 482‐6000 F: (510) 482‐6002
    Second Location: 171 12th St. 94607

    Who is in charge of Magee campus?

  • Director

    Did they get anything other than a slap on the wrist for trying to open on 10/31/11? Does that action penalize them for opening next Fall?

  • PoohBear

    How is it going to look if OUSD tries to close down its #1 school?

    The board is a joke. It can’t be objective if everyone on the board works with Chavis or owes him something. I’m beyond irritated the board meeting was held without sufficient public notice. The school opens at 8 and the meeting was held at 11? You’ve got to be kidding me.

  • Hypatia


    I googled Laura Armstrong American Indian and found this:


    Chavis speaking:

    “Over time, the AIPCS board became a really helpful and supportive force that allowed us to turn the school around. Between 2001 and 2003, I had an excellent board consisting of the following members… Dr. Robert Cooter and Dr. Laura Armstrong, advisors to the board…”

    She is still closely tied with Chavis if she was mentioned in his book. I’m wondering what personal incentives or kickbacks were discussed when initially agreeing to open another branch of EOLA in his 171 12th St property. What was she promised?

    I’ve seen multiple teachers enter and exit 171 12 St. When asked, they say they work in an elementary school. Who is running Little Hands? Are they credentialed? Why cannot I find them online? I can see through this school he has downstairs tenants. The high school is downstairs with the elementary school. Are high schoolers allowed to share space with preK and 5th grade students? Is this a public or private school? I’m pretty sure when she is investigated Chavis will claim no knowledge of the situation and throw her under the bus.

  • Miles

    If it was held- then so be it. Its within the law right? How come all you detractors or complainers just simply go to the meeting? And show your blogging face!!!!

    To me it seems that many of you have a problem with him and not the school.

    If it was me- id just go.

  • Anon

    You don’t seem to get the point. If it was posted at 8 am with a sign that said 2 PM and then was crossed out to read 11 am, how could we have gone? How could we have listened if there was no call in number?

    Miles, you’re slow.

  • J.R.
  • TKL

    Mike, you are right, there is a problem with him and not the school. The question is WHEN is someone going to investigate. OUSD shouldn’t close their #1 performing school, they should address the problem. Read above and you will see a long list of things that need to be addressed. This may be their #1 ‘performing’ school but it is not a ‘#1 school’. As long as Chavis is there, it is not worth your breath to talk to anyone (Director, Principle, Teachers, Accountant (his wife), Board, etc. They are all handpicked by him). The reason he hires young, is so he can tell them what to think and do. If they don’t conform he fires them or brow beats into submission. As for why these people stay, according to Chavis’s own claim on the recent Stossel show, “they are paid very well”. Where else can smart, young un-experienced people find a job with these salaries. They work there for the money and are loyal to him for these reasons. In reality he is a dictator who has zero tolerance for anyone who questions or opposes him. It would be interesting to see how he would handle having to answer to some of the above questions. Past behavior would indicate he would explode and resign which is his way of avoiding coming clean.

    High performing school, YES and certainly worth carrying forward, but not with Chavis. The AIPCS Board should put leadership in place that can carry the forward without dependence on any one person.

    One has to wonder what is internally wrong with Chavis. He appears to genuinely care for the students but is clearly accustomed to making his own rules and doing things his own way. The end results do speak for themselves but do not justify the means. It seems a game to him that he enjoys. What kind of lesson is he teaching his students, his teachers (who are really students or understudies)?
    He needs to take credit for what has been done and go back into retirement to do whatever it was that he was doing before he returned. He is too conflicted to stay: CEO (who is NOT donating his salary this time), Landlord, ‘in bed’ with the accountant, controls the board. The public is funding quite a lot beyond the school.

  • On the Fence

    Anon, Thank you for posting yesterday about the meeting. Clearly, the lack of notice thwarted those people who otherwise would have attended this meeting.

    Miles, Many people are interested in this school and some have even made their intention to attend the board meetings known on this blog.

    Katy, How can people find out what transpired yesterday, and do they have any recourse to have the meeting repeated, if they did not give proper notice? How would we find out if proper notice was given? To whom would one submit a complaint within the district should they be inclined?

  • Miles

    …so Im slow- product of the finest instituion in the world- OUSD.

    But Anon- youre a coward! I guess that why your name is “Anon”- on a blog site.

    I dont think highly of the guy, im just saying …..if you know what is going on then go see to it…That is all!

  • Nextset

    TKL: I’ve read your post above. What I can’t understand is how you think all you say is a bad thing.

    Granted you don’t like dictators – but so what?

    One doesn’t start a business – or a school – and run it as a collective or a democracy. You sound like we are just expected to assume autocracy is bad. Well, no. OUSD is bad, at least it has very bad stats. AIM doesn’t. The fact that AIM runs it schools like a slave plantation is interesting (assuming that’s even true) but not illegal. The Catholic Schools I went to were not run as democracies either and they were taking orders from people/person who claimed they got orders from God. While I know that is not a sign of a healthy mind – I’d enroll kids there anyway when the alternative is OUSD or any other slum “school”.

    In other words – it’s their school take it or leave it. They don’t HAVE to do anything your way.

    Get it?

    Now as far as using public treasury money to run the cult school or whatever you make of it. We do have an Education Code and a body of case law that says what cannot be permitted in these schools. If you are accusing AIM of violation of law, please cite the code section you contend is being violated. So we can follow your logic.

    There is a danger Charter Schools may degenerate into Iranian Schools, Cult Schools, Black Panther Schools, or any other type of Public Enemy Schools. But AIM, in Chavis’ wildest moments, hasn’t been accused of going that far (as to be operated in an anti-social way). At least not yet.

    So your post sounds like whining to me at least at this point and with what you are accusing them of. Granted the stage is arguably set for some REAL illegality. I believe you are right in what you are saying that he has created conditions that historically lead to illegal immoral and unwholesome behaviors and cover-ups… kind of like the Penn State Athletic Department. Or maybe like Synanon, or the Catholic Church. Conditions you describe is how stepping over the line occurs and is covered up. Crazy can become normal and flourish.

    I’ll give you that. BUT it hasn’t happened yet and the kiddies do go home to their parent every day who can question them about what is going on. If AIM were a boarding school I’d be more concerned.

    But for now – AIM is a reaction to OUSD and it’s problems. The students and families can and will walk out the minute they see a better school.

  • TKL

    Nextset: Well, it seems that you need to re-read my post so that you can ‘get’ my point. You seem to have missed it altogether. I agree fully that AIM is not a bad thing and would like to see it continue successfully. I think I said this. I would hope you could differentiate between whining and raising a flag which is about the character and not the school. What I am asking, is who will investigate the practices that, as you say historically lead to illegal immoral and unwholesome behaviors and cover-ups.. Frankly, until someone does, how does anyone know that the line has not already been crossed.

  • PoohBear


    I think you might be able to use the following as an example in regards to the ed code:

    http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cs/ac/documents/csccaaudit.pdf#search=unethical%20fund&view=FitH&pagemode=none pg. 15

    TKL isn’t whining. Overpayment and gross mismanagement of funds, along with SERIOUS unethical behavior means there has to be more than a change of leadership and the board. You even touched on it in post #88. How do you know what is going on?

    Don’t belittle those that are finally saying something.

    Again, the model is great. The school is a haven. The model can be replicated – without Chavis.

  • TKL

    Well stated PoohBear

  • Nextset

    TKL: Unless the district has a “Quality control for Charters” office no one will investigate any of this.

    AIM will be allowed to continue as they wish until their behavior becomes so acute their students complain and leave. Maybe that will happen, maybe it never will. Or maybe AIM will get so crazy – like Synanon did, like the Catholics did – that something really dramatic will occur and the lawsuits will pile up along with the insurance claims. It seems to be the way of the world.

    Since OUSD sees nothing wrong with their own decent into madness I don’t see them working to maintain Quality at the Charters. And the State Government is working it’s own way into collapse (growing welfare and social programs vs fleeing tax base and rising crime).

    So I suppose your complaints looked to me like whining, sorry about that. I’m seeing lots of friction as the people have to get used to the new reality that Government is just no longer doing it’s job and services are crashing.

    I do agree with you that what you are complaining about at AIM will probably get way out of control and the place will not endure much longer than Chavis can personally be there to hold it all together. I don’t know Chavis or the school – but I know the syndrome well. It doesn’t sound so much like an institution he’s created as a cult of personality. And that never lasts.. Even if at one point they get to be as big as Synanon, Jonestown – or any other of the Bay Area creations.

    Here I am comparing a school to a cult…..

    Well, the cults did work for awhile each time. The Bay Area was a great hatching place for them.

  • Nextset

    PoohBear: The minute somebody replicates the classroom sucess of AIM they will have students enrolling. I just wish OUSD would do it first – on a demonstration basis. Kind of like the High School SUmmer Session they used to run at Oakland Tech with UC Berkeley in Charge.

    If OUSD would get the political will to do it – they could out-charter the Charters. I think Political Correctness stops them. It’s funny that PC never kept the Oakland Tech Summer School from snapping the whip and being a “real” school. There were no Affirmative Action policies and people were flunked out and thrown out at will. And the students loved it. The hot fresh-baked cinnamon rolls in the morning at the Cafeteria helped a lot.

  • OUSD Parent

    @ Nextset: I agree with you. It does seem like OUSD complains a lot about charters and families leaving the district but they won’t make the necessary changes to compete with the increasingly popular charters and the surrounding areas with stronger schools. I don’t get it. If OUSD won’t adapt then it should stop complaining.

  • Sharon

    Holy Toledo! I haven’t checked this site for a few weeks and am amazed at the length and content of this discussion. It looks like people are finally seeing through the lies and starting to make out the corruption that’s loomed over this school for years. Who knows, maybe the Trib will even produce an investigative piece!

    To answer one of the questions above, Martin Waukazoo, executive director of the Native American Health Center, helped establish AIPCS in 1996 in an effort to help OUSD’s Native American students. Evelyn Lamenti of OUSD’s Office of Indian Education knew Chavis from his days at SF State and helped to recruit him in 2001. Apparently the school was a mess and needed to be straightened it up. This article supplies other details:

    One of Chavis’s friends used to keep a blog (no longer operating) and explained Chavis’s propensity for collecting real estate assets: “When [Chavis] lived in Arziona[sic], he bought a run-down house each summer and fixed it up. When it was all said and done, he ended up with a nice portfolio of real estate.” Chavis didn’t pay himself much when he was at the school because he had his real estate income stream (also probably how he could afford to give his students all those cash rewards).

    The blogger-friend also wrote this: “Dr. Chavis’ wife TOLD him he needed to take over and right the ship. He had a responsibility to his fellow Native Americans.” Well that turned out to be a bunch of baloney. Right before Chavis started, the Native American population at the school was 52%. Within a few years it started to rapidly decline, and now it’s about 1%.

    The Native American Policy journal even gave the school accolades, back in 2003 when they thought Chavis’s school was actually interested in helping Native American kids.

    Little did they know…

  • Sharon

    P.S. – Someone with the same name as the person who kept the above mentioned blog left a lot of nasty comments here:

    Katy admonished him and even Nextset responded to his tirades with: “I am finding your raw emotion distracting. The level of acrimony in your writing is unusual for this blog. You seem to have personal relationships with some of the other people here outside of taking positions on policy.”

    This reminds me of apples not falling far from trees.

  • Anon


    Thanks for that post. Steve Moyer mentioned that he was a real estate advisor. That is now suspect, given the misuse of public funds.

    And Lopez probably regrets being in cahoots with Chavis, given the state’s refusal to appoint him. I wonder if his name was on the 171 12th St lease so it wouldn’t look like Chavis was directly misappropriating funds. Gov’t Money —>
    AIPCS 2 (Plus Lil Hands and AIPHS in ’11) —> Sun Mgt (Lopez co.) —> Lumbee Properties (Chavis)

  • TKL

    In reading the latest posts, it is probably true that Chavis “needed to take over the right ship”. This move certainly helped him do quite well for himself. There is a pattern that centers around deception and manipulation for his own purposes.

    When he originally took over the school he was able to deflect much by donating his salary back. During this time he established a structure so that he could ‘retire’. With a new board in place and him still a part of it, combined with his wife as accountant for both the school and his properties, he never really left

    At this point the real issues seem obvious. It is almost dizzying to try to follow the connections. A warped personality, dictatorial style and managing by intimidation are not illegal. These are not the issues. If everything is on the up and up then Chavis and the Board shouldn’t mind being more open and the opportunity to set things straight.

  • Former AIPCS parent

    I know for a fact that the board at AIPCS is not a real board- ask any aipcs family member. Last real meeting probably was back in 06. I also know that the school was much better when Chavis ran it in 2006 when my son was there. Since then, I also know that Chavis has fired so many staff members that they now hate him and talk bad about him maybe even here.And the doozy is, that he and Lopez hate each other! The district know this, students know this, and all those connected know this. Some of the students taped Chavis ranting about Lopez and posted brief;y on Youtube.

    He got what he wanted- to be the ultimate dictator boss of his own kingdom with no one to answer too.