By Katy Murphy
Monday, April 2nd, 2012 at 7:19 pm in charter schools.
6 5:30 p.m. special meeting Wednesday night, the Oakland school board considers the fate of American Indian Public Charter School II, a middle school in downtown Oakland with a near-perfect Academic Performance Index of 990.
American Indian Public Charter School II, one of three schools run by American Indian Model Schools, is up for its 5-year charter renewal. At the same time, state auditors are investigating allegations of financial fraud in the school’s charter management organization. The Oakland school district’s charter schools office has recommended that the board reject the American Indian renewal application.
The staff report cites numerous reasons for its conclusion, from compliance issues (teacher certification and occupancy permits) to a pending investigation into allegations of fraud, conflicts of interest and deliberate misappropriation of funds.
The FCMAT letter says that, given the timeline, the county superintendent might suggest a conditional renewal with a fiscal adviser. But OUSD’s charter schools director, Gail Greely, recommends against taking that course. You’ll find her arguments on Page 7-8. I’ve pasted some excerpts below.
A conditional renewal of the charter has been considered, but is not recommended for the following reasons:
- The violations of the charter and applicable law and regulation identified by the staff and the extraordinary audit are serious and wide-ranging. (See pages 8, 21-22 and Attachment III to this report.) They involve the safety of students and staff, as well as millions of dollars of public funds. To authorize a conditional renewal would undermine the ability of the District to hold charter schools accountable to their legal and ethical obligations.
- American Indian Model Schools’ governing board does not exhibit the willingness or capacity to address the failings identified in this report and in the preliminary findings of the extraordinary audit. …
- The school has not sustained compliant management in the face of historical violations, including:
o Violation of an agreement to remove the former director
o Failure to obtain an occupancy permit
o Failure to ensure compliance with teacher credential requirements
o Failure to provide timely and accurate financial and attendance reports
Given the fact that the investigation is not complete, what do you think the school board should do?
When I learned about the audit in February, I formally requested public records related to any recent investigations of American Indian Model Schools. The documents were made available to me today, after much of the information was posted online.
The district’s general counsel decided not to include the complaints of “sexual harassment and verbal or physical abuse of students” referenced in one of the letters I read today; the district spokesman cited privacy concerns. The packet also did not include responses provided by American Indian to the district. I’ve requested those as well.