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In split vote, OUSD board puts American Indian charter schools on notice

Last night, the Oakland school board issued a 1,080-page “notice of violation” to all three American Indian Model Schools over its fiscal and governance practices. (Link to the massive file here.) It’s the first step in a long process that could end in the closure of all three schools.

Supporters of the charter school organization begged for four more weeks, noting the hiring of a new financial team and the appointment of some new board members. And, of course, the schools’ near-perfect test scores.

Paul Minney, a lawyer representing AIM Schools, told the board that if it tabled the decision for a month, “…we are confident that we can arrive at an action plan to fully assuage the district’s concerns.”

“A notice of violation creates a high degree of fear, uncertainty and anxiety,” he said.

But the appeals made by Minney and the stream of parents and students after him were not enough to sway the board, which voted 4-2 to issue the notice. Board members Alice Spearman and Chris Dobbins voted no, and Noel Gallo was absent.

OUSD’s General Counsel Jacqueline Minor argued that the organization has had months to address the district’s concerns. District staff members raised many of the same issues at an April charter renewal hearing. And a state audit which formed the basis for this violation notice — investigators found that AIM’s founder, Ben Chavis, his wife, and their various businesses collected $3.8 million in wages and contracts between 2007 and 2011 — was published in June.

“They’re asking for an additional four weeks,” Minor said. “They’ve had three months.”

OUSD board member David Kakishiba told members of American Indian’s governing board — which, according to state auditors, provided almost no oversight of the organization’s fiscal practices — that it should do what the high-performing schools demand of their students.

“You need to work hard!” Kakishiba said. “Wake up and smell the coffee or just deny the allegations that was done in May.”

He went on to say, “The only people who are jeopardizing the education of hundreds of children and the dreams of hundreds of parents is the lack of action, affirmative action, by the governing body of American Indian charter schools. Do the job and model what you tell kids to do in the classroom.”

Board member Alice Spearman, who has described herself as a friend of Chavis’s, once again came to the schools’ defense. As she has in the past, she suggested that this was all about politics. This time, she took it a step further, saying (without further explanation): “People have already been paid off to do what they want to do.”

“There’s no reason, right at this point, that we shouldn’t give them time to do this. We shouldn’t rush into this revocation process, but it’s politics as usual,” Spearman said.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: AIM Schools must respond to the notice within 60 days. If the OUSD board and charter school staff don’t deem the response sufficient, they can take the next step: a notice of “Intent to Revoke.” A hearing is then held, and a decision must be made on the fate of the schools within 30 days.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Nontcair

    Paul Minney, a lawyer representing AIM Schools, told the board ..
    OUSD’s General Counsel Jacqueline Minor argued ..

    Public education. Great news for lawyers.

    Now what’s all this about public education being for the children?

  • J.R.

    Non,
    Do not forget the plethora of government lackeys and staff who subsist on taxpayer money and depend on bureaucratic red-tape, meetings and standards where nothing is ever accomplished and there is no way of verifying if they are even doing something remotely useful to begin with. They provide makework(shovel it out,and then shovel it back in again) jobs that will be paid for(with interest) by successive generations of taxpayers.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2012/02/three-handy-pages-with-facts-about.html Sharon

    It seems quite likely that this school hasn’t had an independent and functioning board for years, school control having been dominated by Ben Chavis. It will be interesting to see if they can scrape up enough people to make it appear as if they have one now.

    And remember, when charter schools get into legal fights with their authorizers, taxpayers pay the lawyers twice to cover each party’s legal costs.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2012/02/three-handy-pages-with-facts-about.html Sharon

    Here’s a portion of that document to look at without having to download the whole 1080 page pdf. It’s the Notice of Violations summary, minus all the exhibits. The juicy stuff starts on page seven.
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/107775239

    Talk about zero oversight and ripping off taxpayers. I’ll be amazed if Chavis isn’t eventually charged with a crime.

  • Murphy’s Law

    If it’s shut down, what happens to the kids? Would it be done in the middle of the year. Tell me that would never happena nd they’d only do something like this over the summer. Shutting down a high school in the middle of the year is pretty extreme. It’s one thing to address the adult problem, but the impact on kids should be at the forefront.

    If it’s shut down, what happens to the kids?

  • Shanta

    That’s right Oakland, get rid of the only highly ranked school in your system. I’m glad that my kid has already graduated.

  • Ms. J.

    In response to the question in #5–If it’s shut down, what happens to the kids? Last year at this time, AIPCS was planning to open its new elementary school–that’s right, not when the regular school year started, but over a month in.

    Dozens of kids from Bella Vista and other schools were scheduled to leave the schools which they’d been attending until AIPCS came along. Bella Vista had already been consolidated by two teachers due to a similar situation to that now occurring at Cleveland, and had the AIPCS been allowed to open at that time it is likely the school would have suffered the loss of at least two more teachers, causing bigger class sizes and more disruption. The families who were planning to send their kids to AIPCS were not concerned about the havoc this would wreak in the lives of the other students alongside whom their kids had been learning up until this point. It’s shocking to me that the schools are supposed to be accountable and there is so little expected in the way of responsibility not only to their own kids but to the others by the parents in the system.

    Families who are discouraged from investing in their neighborhood school because those schools are sabotaged (as in the case of Cleveland and Bella Vista) by bureaucratic mistakes and a focus on faceless numbers will ultimately give up. Families who are told that good schools exist in a vacuum, rather than as a result of family involvement and activism, will not invest in any school but just seek out the schools which they’ve heard are good (whatever that means).

    The charter and voucher schools movement look at families as consumers, but a healthy school is one in which all participants are stakeholders and commit to the work together, in whatever way they can.

    Also, it’s appalling to me that anyone would still focus on the idea that AIPCS is “high ranking” after so much criminal and abusive behavior has been documented there. This also seems to me a very capitalist idea. The ends justify the means. Never mind that the ends themselves are very narrowly measured. AIPCS students score high on multiple choice tests, so let’s give the schools a pass and not hold them accountable to any other educational, social, or ethical norms.

  • MJ

    Ms. J, thanks for your comments. Before this fiasco with Cleveland (I’m a Cleveland parent)I didn’t understand why some parents were only willing to send their children to schools in the hills. It appears that those schools are “protected” from the worst incompetence of OUSD. But it makes a bit more sense to me now. If you send your child to a school that isn’t “protected,” then your school is vulnerable to the whims of a reactive administration. I know that parents at those schools don’t get everything they want either, and that OUSD has systemic problems that impact all of its schools, but it just seems like things are different up there….

  • Ann

    OUSD seems more interested in closing schools than fixing them. Notably missing from the discussion about American Indian Public Charter is a discussion of adopting those teaching techniques that work and using them at public schools. Like how about a longer school year.

    The one thing the OUSD and the teachers union consistently agree on on less work, more minimum days and shorter school years. It’s maddening and expensive for parents and devastating for kids. American Indian public Charter has 30 more school days and they don’t have whole weeks of minimum days or 8 floating minimum days per school.

    The School Board, Tony Smith and the teacher’s union hate AIPC because it is managed. It shows what can be done not with tons of cash but with work and management. If the School Board cared about kids or could manage they wouldn’t have taken this decision without providing parents and families with information and a transition plan so as to not frighten and disrupt 1,200 children’s education.

    Does Jody London plan to sit down with Tony Smith and a write a plan and outline of the process to send to the families of 1,200 children whose lives maybe completely disrupted because of this decision.

    How do Ms. London and Mr. Smith plan to manage this, process?

  • On The Fence

    I sure wish Crocker could get some of that “protection” that MJ thinks is doled out in secret to the hills schools! We sure could’ve used it. We’re up the same creek as the Cleveland families, only OUSD sent us there first!

    Crocker families that have caught wind of what is going on at Cleveland (I’ve spoken with about 10) stand in solidarity with Cleveland. We empathize. We know how it feels. OUSD continues to use poor data while at the same time ignoring common sense. This may be the result of ineptitude, but it begins to feel as if OUSD truly does not value the families that invest heavily and passionately in their schools.

  • Wishful Thinking

    @MJ: I hope you’re not referring to Crocker as one of the “protected” schools from the hills. It certainly wasn’t protected from the incompetent decision making this past year to expand the boundaries when the school was already at capacity. This appears to have directly impacted YOUR school (Cleveland).

    We are still extremely frustrated with the actions and response by OUSD. No one is taking any responsibility and for some reason those inept individuals appear to still have their jobs. There obviously needs to be a change, starting with the board, and I know how I will be voting this year.

  • Arthur

    When a charter school is created, the board is in control of finances, maintaining the school, and being in compliance. This option sometimes appears like a haven in Oakland. When board members are so blatantly corrupt, OUSD’s slow, inept eyes are turned towards the violations.

    Sure, you can say OEA and OUSD hate American Indian’s existence because their high test scores cause embarrassment or they steal kids from neighborhood schools. Honestly, that’s not the issue. It’s not even up for discussion because it’s irrelevant to the argument. $3.8 million was misappropriated. Just because money is misappropriated elsewhere doesn’t mean it’s ok if it happens at AIPCS.

    Parents are saying it’s horrible that OUSD would even consider closing a school that has the highest scores in CA. It’s unacceptable that it might happen during the year – that would cause uncomfortable transitions, transportation issues, money spent, etc. But wait. Parents chose AIPCS, a charter, without thought to the kids left in neighborhood schools. That’s fine in my eyes. But you can’t lash out at OUSD to provide a contingency plan for AIPCS students .The message being sent is “it’s ok for me to cause chaos at neighborhood schools because those aren’t my kids, but how dare you disrupt my child’s education?” Parents don’t seem to understand that when the AIPCS board isn’t responsible, you don’t go blaming OUSD. This is the route they chose if they chose AIPCS. For several years (the exception being 2012 when the audit was announced) parents were told that there is limited involvement at the school, and most liked that. Well, the reason Chavis didn’t want parent participation is pretty clear now. During board meetings since January, the question has been asked: Parents, what is your contingency plan? Silence.

    It’s not really up to OUSD to fix a mess Chavis and his hand picked board created. And I don’t really see a way to fix this mess either. In the past, I have heard the AIPCS board claim ignorance or explain violations because the board is new. This is said to skirt around the issue of intentional incompetence so that funds could be channeled to companies Chavis owned. It’s also another way to ask for more time. Unfortunately, if the board is properly trained, it does little good because they are still directed by Chavis.

    As for Spearman, it is all about politics. She spends many a weekend over at Chavis’s house. I’ve heard her conversations with Marsh outside of the OUSD building more than once.

    “There’s no reason, right at this point, that we shouldn’t give them time to do this. We shouldn’t rush into this revocation process, but it’s politics as usual.”

    The audit was announced in February, FCMAT got involved in April, and the report was published in June, and Chavis has been stealing since 20__. How has this process been rushed? (When can Spearman be voted out??)

    And I have nothing to say about Nedir Bey being a member of the AIPCS board. Absolutely nothing.

  • A truthful student

    I know that our school had been attracting a lot of students and causing other schools to be shut down. But because our school provides really good education , why do others had to blame our school. We worked hard to get the high API scores. All of us worked hard. WE LOVE OUR SCHOOL. WE ARE A FAMILY and we will keep our school as our FAMILY. We will try hard to keep the doors open forever. American indian is a good school it is the best school I ever went to. I wished that dear all the mr mrs and ms please help support our school.

  • Pamela Curtiss-Horton

    What’s unbelievable to me is that the OUSD School Board approved the extension of AIPCS knowing that there were multiple violations and knowing full well that they break every rule all charter schools must follow. The parents must submit test scores before the children are selected for admission, then the students have to “try out” during summer school. Only high achieving students are admitted, so obviously high scoring students will continue to test well.

    At Bella Vista, we knew that we would lose large numbers of students if AIPCS expanded to include K-5th grade students. What we didn’t know was that our school board would approve this charter when they were quite aware of all of the charges facing Ben Chavis. We also couldn’t find out how severely we would be impacted because the parents were warned not to let the schools know where their children were going. Since we had no way of knowing, we ended up in the position of having to consolidate two teachers due to low enrollment (60 of our students, almost all Chinese, all high-scoring, went to AIPCS).

    Many of the children who enrolled at AIPCS have contacted me with very sad stories of receiving daily detentions for such severe violations as not having a shirt tucked in correctly, not speaking loudly enough in class, and even after staying up until midnight not being able to finish all of the homework. The parents love this school because of the high test scores and lack of discipline problems, but at what cost to the children? Ben Chavis prides himself and AIPCS for not wasting money on food because “minority children are obese and can afford to miss a meal”, and insisting that recess, sports, art, and music are a waste of a child’s educational time. If our beautiful, amazing students had left Bella Vista for a better educational environment, I would have been more than happy, but to know that they are in a repressive, oppressive, anti-child school breaks my heart.

    If you want to know more about about Ben Chavis, go to YouTube, and you can hear his negativity for yourself. I was appalled to hear what he had to say about Oakland children and schools and even more appalled to realize that a majority of our elected school board would be so blinded by test score mania that they would approve and extend the charters for these schools where children are degraded and demeaned.
    Shame on Alice Spearman, Noel Gallo, and Chris Dobbins! Vote them out! We need school board members who understand that education is more than high test scores and who can see fraud and law-breaking when it is right before their eyes!

  • Doug Appel

    I applaud the board majority’s courage in proceeding with the Notice of Violation. The poster above correctly asks what took them so long. AIMS has had many months to get their operations in compliance with state law and has failed to do so. They now have 60 days to demonstrate the ability to do so.
    Although some charter schools are run by organizations which genuinely seek to improve education for students, some are run by those who seek only to profit by feeding at the public trough. The FCMAT report clearly shows that AIMS is run by a kleptocrat. Nearly $4 million in public tax dollars skimmed off by Chavis et. al! This is emblematic of the overall problem with charters. They are recipients of public funds but are not directly accountable to elected representatives and often fail to operate by the rules established by their own governing documents and are run by a small, self-selected clique. The charter issuing agencies, such as OUSD, frequently fail to do proper oversight of the schools.
    I feel for the parents and students who clearly value what AIMS offers them–but nothing prevent AIMS from reopening as a tuition charging private school which offers the same educational opportunities and none of the accountability or transparency which should be present in publicly funded institutions.

  • Murphy’s Law

    If Ben Chavis ran for school board, would he win?
    The union and establishment would go crazy. But people rarely vote in those elections and he has touched enough lives in a positive way that he would probably win!

    My point is not that he should run for school board, but rather that our views and priorities about the purpose of public education are vastly different. Most people just want their kid to get a good education. That’s it.

    Bella Vista is upset becuase AIPCS took their Asian kids. Really? Wow…

    Ann is 100% right (#9). There should be a robust, healthy discussion about the teaching and administrative methods employed by AIPCS. That would seem tobe common sense, but instead we retreat into our dysfunctional norms. If they’re doing something right, learn from it. Unfortunately, time is running out and we might no longer be able to have the conversation.

  • LK

    @9: I am an ousd teacher and I don’t hate aipc for reasons you stated. Hate is a rather strong word. Moreover, I am not opposed to hard work. I regularly put in 15 hours per week of unpaid overtime and that is typical for all public school teachers. What I am opposed to is requiring extended hours or days without remuneration. The district claims it can’t give teachers a raise, so how would ousd extend the school year? If ousd parents want an extended school year it must be funded. Teachers, administrators, custodians, food services, etc. have to be paid.

    I dislike charters like aipc because they cherry pick students and families. Come a certain date in the fall (sorry, I don’t know what it is), they expel students they don’t want (especially special ed) and get to keep the state ADA and special ed funding for those students. Charters segregate students. Look at the student body of aipc, for example. Philosophically, inserting the profit motive in education rubs me the wrong way. Education represents a huge pot of public money that should be spent for the public good. The idea of corporations squeezing the teachers, deprofessionalizing the profession in the process (i.e. TFA), all so the wealthy can make a profit in the name of the children horrifies me.

    Is aipc managed? It is managed so the schools can pick their students while neighborhood schools take all comers. It is managed so their teachers are compliant and go along to get along. It is managed so its directors can skim a few million to put in their pockets.

  • Heyooh

    Murphy’s law, you say that as if the school board gives a damn about these 1200 kids who they are going to send back to crappy FAILING schools like Castlemont Fremont etc.

  • Heyooh

    @15 yes look at the demographics, you have students who all want to WORK HARD and are not just there for a free lunch

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2012/02/three-handy-pages-with-facts-about.html Sharon

    Someone should keep a running tally of how much money it’s costing to deal with this huge mess. So far that would be the expense of lengthy, deep investigations and subsequent reports produced by both FCMAT and the law firm Burke, Williams, & Sorenson (hired by OUSD), plus the hours spent by Ms. Minor (OUSD’s General Counsel) and Ms. Greely (head of the Office of Charter Schools) plus their staffs, along with all the rest. It clearly took hours and hours of work to get the information from AIPCS and to track the money funneled to the Chavis/Amador businesses. This public expense is not over yet.

    In Oakland, each charter school is run by a non-profit corporation. It is those corporations to which our tax dollars are funneled and then are used for the operation of the charter school/s. There are very strict rules for how non-profits are supposed to be run, one of which is that they are supposed to be run by a group of board members (but just not one that is elected by the general public). But accountability should still be required since they receive and spend millions of dollars of public money.

    It seems to me, that as supposedly “public” entities, the members of these boards — along w/their bios and defined terms of service — should be made just as publicly visible (hopefully centralized on OUSD’s website) as the members of Oakland’s school board. Board members are supposed to be listed on the non-profit’s tax returns, but for the years 2002, 2003, & 2004, not a single person other than Chavis is listed on those forms (look up EIN 943309981 @ http://nccsdataweb.urban.org/PubApps/search.php). Was Chavis even being overseen by a board at all back then? Probably not. Was OUSD’s charter school coordinator doing any oversight at all? Probably not.

    Board members start showing up on the 990s in 2005, but it definitely reeks of cronyism. Just one example is the connection between Chavis, former president Michael Stember, and young Mr. Jordan Locklear.
    http://fayobserver.com/articles/2010/07/18/1012329?sac=Sports

    According to the AIM application submitted last January when AIPCS II sought renewal, the board members at that time were Locklear, Stember, Chavis, Judy Marquardt, and Chris Rodriguez. The document even listed their 5-year terms, from either 2010-2014 or 2011-2015. But now nine months later, AIM board meeting documents reveal that Locklear is the only one left on the board. The four new members are Jean Martinez (Chair), Nedir Bey, Ronald Grant, and Steven Leung. These individuals are serving on behalf of this publicly-funded non-profit and should be held accountable as such. Incidentally, more cronyism is probably in the works b/c Bey has a long history w/both AIPCS and Oakland Charter Academy (stated in his July 2009 application to OUSD for the Marcus Garvey Public Charter School).

    If there had been proper oversight and transparency from the start, it’s likely that this current situation would not have happened. There have been a lot of screwy indicators all along and it’s really too bad for the City of Oakland that the Oakland Tribune never bothered to assign an investigative reporter to the story, b/c Katy can’t do it all. I guess everyone was too in love with the idea of a “miracle” school.

  • Nexset

    Decent people care about academic achievement, especially for kids not otherwise expected to do so well. People don’t care as much as about the money or they would have cut off the money at OUSD and it’s ghetto schools a long time ago.

    So OUSD is allowed to stay open. Even with the bad discipline and the bad educational stats. OUSD continously promises they are turning the corner and are going to teach black children to read, write and count. Every year they tell everyone they will produce different results with the same policies. And fools believe it.

    People don’t give a damn about the money. They never have and never will. The money is printing press money or money from someone else. Money and budgets don’t really matter and if Chavis or anyone else is taking his money, he can have it! Nobody cares about where the money goes at the Charters or the Public Schools because it’s not their money, they didn’t pay it and they are not sending a child to a school to get the money.

    The only product a school puts out is children who can read, write, count, and keep themselves clean enough to go forward in life. On that scale AIM is doing it’s job just fine. The cherry picking nonsense is silly. Does Head-Royce cherry pick? Dies Piedmont cherry pick?

    The people who hate Chavis and AIM are jealous and want to excercise power over others. They want the school closed come hell or high water. They want the students there forced to go to OUSD. They’d want no Charter Schools that black and brown children can escape to – no Charter School will ever be good enough for the power grabbers. As far as the libs are concerned no children should be able to not go to OUSD except their own going to Head-Royce. They want the chillun to stay on the reservation.

    Good Luck with that. People vote with their feet.

    Brave New World.

  • Jim Mordecai

    The issue around Chavis and AIM schools is about two different things. One is whether there was criminal action and that will be determined by a court if Chavis is brought to court.

    The second issue is compliance with rules around governing a charter school. one rule is the authorizer has certain oversight responsibilities that can not be cared out if the charter school does not provide in a timely manner the required documents. It is about the relationship between representatives of the District in the form of the District Charter School Office and representatives of the Governing Board of AIM schools. It is clear that the Governing Board of the Charter schools has not been responsive to Oakland’s charter office personnel. The District is fulfilling its oversight responsibility by its 1,081 page notice of violation and the ball is in the court of AIM governing board to respond or not.

    My opinion that the Board is over a decade late in fulfilling its oversight responsibility.

    Under charter law Chavis could let the AIM schools close and find a friend to create new charter schools as replacements. The advantage here to Chavis would be he gets Obama charter money and State loans for these “new” start-up schools. He just has to adjust how he does business so there are no illegal connections that put Chavis at further risk of violating existing laws.

    Jim Mordecai

  • MJ

    Wishful Thinking and On The Fence: You know, I don’t know all of the nuances of the Crocker situation, and I don’t want this to be a Crocker vs. Cleveland thing. I don’t want to fuel that fire. Emotions are high on our end, especially since we’re losing a class and Crocker gained one. It’s hard not to feel like one caused the other, although I am sure that the truth is more complex. We sincerely appreciate the support. The problem is OUSD and its administration. I think that the only way we’ll see change is to have more parents from more schools work together in support of our children.

  • J.R.

    Nextset,
    I have to agree with you that taxpayers must not be distracted(vis a vis public vs charter) from the major education issues and expenses in our state,city,and district. Oversight and governance are conceptually good things but they have not prevented OUSD from blowing through massive 400+ million dollar budgets per year from 2000-2008 with very limited results and some questionable expenditures. I am not making excuses for Chavis(thousands or even millions at stake), he should be investigated and dealt with. I see all this other excess(hundreds of millions) in the public system that does not go directly towards education of children and no one bats an eye.

    http://schoolspending.apps.cironline.org/county/alameda/district/oakland-unified/

    http://draketalkoakland.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/oakland-unified-saves-jobs-for-adult-ed-administrators-and-consultants-few-classes-fewer-teachers/

    http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2011/09/07/a-closer-look-at-spending-and-test-scores-in-east-bay-schools/#comments

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lHEPOwKA_k

    Oversight, regulations and all the rest don’t mean much when the system and the people in it are lacking on integrity or just too comfortable. The systemic waste is there and ingrained, just part of doing business with the people’s money.

  • LK

    @17: So, public school kids are lazy and are there for a free lunch? Interesting.

  • J.R.

    Sharon,
    We are trying to keep a running tally of all the waste fraud and abuse system-wide(not easy at all because the system is built on the premise the the poor schmuck taxpayer doesn’t need to know). Ex: closed session of board meetings, and there are more examples.

  • Seth

    On 9-28-12 Oakland School Board members London, Kakishiba, Hodge and Yee voted to issue a Notice of Violation to the American Indian Charter School.

    The school, parents and some board members asked the board to give the American Indian Charter School an additional 30 days to finish correcting some administrative issues. The school has completed more than 85% of the requested corrections. They just needed 30 more days to finish the job that the School Board required of them.

    Instead, School Board members London, Kakishiba, Hodge and Yee voted to not provide the additional 30 days and instead to issue a Notice of Violation.

    A Notice of Violation is the first step in a process designed to close the school. If these board members have their way, the school could be closed in less than 6 months.

    Shame on board members London, Kakishiba, Hodge and Yee. Shame on you for not providing a school with some of the highest test scores in California, with a lousy 30 more days when you and the district were in California State receivership for mismanagement for years. Shame, shame, shame.

    For every AIPCS kid, there are perhaps an additional five registered voters within their extended family, maybe more. This incident has galvanized us into action. We are organizing to hold these school board politicians accountable. Stay tuned, our first action kicks off this coming Monday!

  • Ex-Oakland staff

    We’ve seen this story before in the musical “The Music Man,” another story about an educational con job. The ending is the same too, the townspeople who were taken in by Harold Hill’s “think system” actually end up believing it works.

  • Nontcair

    Once again we see government regulations being used by the entrenched special interests to kneecap an upstart competitor.

    Once again we see how the Republican’s fight — to shovel more tax dollars to government contractors so as to weaken public unions — is not the taxpayer’s fight. It makes little difference to taxpayers whether their money is wasted on teachers or contractors.

    Of course charter schools should have to comply with all the bureaucratic, financial controls we have imposed on traditional public schools. Regulations that have earned our complete cynicism. Regulations which make it inevitable that charter schools will perform no better than the traditional schools they purport to be alternative to.

    This charter school fad has the potential to set back a true education reform movement — which is to say, a 100% privatization route — by 25 years, and to give the educrats an additional (and undeserved) lease on life of equal duration.

  • ann

    My children attend AIPC and I am an an SEIU member previous executive Board Member and shop steward and democrat. I had a strong preference for keeping my children in public schools but neither the OUSD nor the teachers union have fought, worked or coordinated to make Oakland’s middle schools safe or academically challenging institutions. They’ve fought to close schools and to keep them open, they’ve fought over bound measures, they’ve fought over contracts, they’ve fought over seniority, they’ve fought over tests and tests scores.

    OUSD and their teachers struggles with eachother are more consuming to them than my children’s education. Last year the choas, anger, and fights at our neighborhood public middle schools (Bret Harte & Edna Brewer) and High Schools (Skyline and Oakland High) overflowed into my neighborhood on a daily basis. Our esteemed school board doesn’t have time to address this problem which continues to require 2 Oakland Police Officers every school day to keep the peace; no they’re too busy fighting Ben Chavis.

    It is sad how many “liberal” people can applaud throwing immigrant and largely minority children out of safe and high performing middle schools and high schools and moving them into failing institutions with drug, violence and discipline problems which distract from achievement, put them at risk and at an academic disadvantage. The Oakland School Board, Tony Smith, the unions and the wonks have to stop making decisions based on the politics and ideology and start making them based on what is best for children. They have children getting bullied, beaten and shot and they are spending time and money tying to close a safe schools during a crime wave.

  • Observer

    Nedir Bey, as in Yusuf Bey’s son that kidnapped and tortured someone who stepped up against his unethical and illegal real estate transactions? Really?! Is there really a need to investigate further whether or not AIPCS has been engaging in fraud and violating regulations? The question now is what to do with the students. It seems the students are majority Asian, specifically Chinese and are the children of parents who stereotypically demand high scores and stellar academic achievement. They are going to demand and get that of their children anywhere, but they naturally want their children in a place of like minds. There’s no real faulting them that. The idea that OUSD and many other low performing school districts cling to against all evidence that counters is that if you attack the schools with a majority of high performers–race is no matter— you can then sprinkle these kids into your “bad” schools and their families will magically uplift the schools to their full potential. I’ve heard board members allude to this time and time again for a decade now. They said that Hillcrest parents, they said it to Kaiser parents and they are saying it to the families of AIPCS. It has never happened, it has never worked. You cannot add a small handful of high functioning families to a bucket of dysfunction that is the family dynamic at so many schools to “fix” the problem. Especially at the expense of our children’s academic well being and, often, physical safety. Guilt tripping high functioning parents about the socio-economic and social problems at their neighborhood public school—-well how’s that going? Are they flocking to the school to “take care” of it? No. Again, in over a decade I have heard this number in one situation after another, I see it written above and I read a post about lessening already too lax discipline standards and yet none of the powers that be have noticed it doesn’t work. Make your schools safe. Don’t violate my child’s civil rights to walk a hall safely in order to ” protect” her attackers civil right to hurt her.

    What do you do with those kids? Why don’t you take away Ben Chavis’ property as his penance for fraudulently lining his pockets so he can’t charge the school exorbitant rent, tell the families to come up with an interim board while they go out and find their own board to run the schools and give them until June to do so. Then just let the schools run. Stop being jealous. I would love my children to go to a school with such achievement, but I know they wouldn’t fit”

  • Observer

    But why be motivated to destroy something successful just because you can’t emulate that success?

  • Jim Mordecai

    Ann:

    “Government of the people by the people for the people” of Lincoln is about adults.

    The question of self-government is not an outcome question, such as the question is a charter vs. a public school more effective? It is a process question as to whether democratic process and rule of law was followed.

    The Oakland School Board majority voted to do its oversight duty and demand the AMI governance cure and provide a plan for correcting the violations listed in a 1,080 page document within 60 days. There action was carrying out the rule of law.

    One Board member was absent, two Board members voted against making the 60 day demand, and these two board members voting no seemed to want to vote to give AMI governance additional time to respond.

    The question of whether the vote was best for children has to have been factored into the fact that violations existed for so many years without the Board demanding they be corrected.

    While it may be impossible for the current AIM governance to climb the mountain of violations, possibly consideration for what was thought best for children let the violations by AIM governance grow unchecked. And the result may be the closing of the three AIM schools.

    I think it is the weakness of charter school oversight laws that allowed this situation of unchecked violations to mount.

    Government regulation is an adult issue that is about the adult world, a world in which children are the dependants and do not rule. It is a political decision to decide what is best “for the people” as well as what is best “for the children”. And, it is a political decision to decide to enforce regulations. The Oakland School Board will make its political decision to enforce its AIM governance oversight regulations in 60 days or less.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    It is a political decision to decide what is best “for the people”

    The preceding message brought to you by a special interest who benefits *disproportionately* from the regulations he defends.

    Did anyone else infer his *delight* that the THOUSANDS of schoolkids who are adversely impacted by those regulations are powerless to stop him? Collateral damage that he simply brushes aside as the consequences of a valid and worthwhile *political* process.

  • LK

    @29: I’m sorry for the disruption to your children’s lives. What should teachers do when the district comes at us with ridiculous demands? Should we acquiece in the face of constant assault on our pay and working conditions? Believe me, I would much rather be solving problems with the district than always having to push back at their attempts to take away from teachers. On the other hand, I am not overly consumed by labor issues to care about Oakland students and to do my best for my students and I think that’s typical for teachers.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Nontcair:

    I may be wrong but I take your comments not to be against self-government but self-government influenced by special interests.

    So what is your vision of self-government to look like? Is it something in your mind or does it exist in another country, or an another time?

    Jim Mordecai

  • Arthur

    Ann – Instead of attacking OUSD, how are you fixing the problems at home? Unfortunately, the problem is fraud. OUSD is obliged to perform due process. Who gets rid of the AIPCS board? The board. Who appoints new members to the board? The board. Who governs the school? The board. This is in the charter. And the board takes direction from Chavis because members either benefit from him or owe him something. This is the big problem. Jean Martinez has been friends with Chavis for several years. Jordan Locklear lives with Chavis. Nedir Bey is fantastic. Former President Stember is a longtime friend of Chavis quietly exited. Judy Marquardt is in the property management business and has done business with Chavis. She also exited quietly. Are you asking all members of the AIPCS board to resign? Is the board figuring out how to fix over 1,000 pages of violations in 60 days? Are you figuring out a way to keep the schools but force Chavis to leave town, as he did before? People have been trying to figure out a solution for years. He won’t give up power. It’s too lucrative for him.

    I have only heard one solution from Observer – taking away the property… said partly in jest. The issue wasn’t really the rent. He has to charge rent – they’re his properties. It was the cars, the life insurance, the credit card statements, the fraudulent construction work, the double salaries, the SAIL program that used the same books but charged 3k per kid, the misappropriated ASES afterschool grant, the undocumented workers that didn’t have background checks, the friends he hired as teachers that failed background checks (just a DUI), etc.

  • Jim Mordecai

    I’ve repeatedly pointed out that the Oakland School Board under Ed Code has the opportunity to appoint its own representative to the AIM Board.

    If there is anybody without a connection to Dr. Chavez interested in saving the school and monitoring the Board, they should contact Jody London or any other Oakland School Board member to let the Board know that there is someone willing to serve in that capacity.

    Does anyone know if members of the AIM Board receive money for serving as a Board member?

    Jim Mordecai

  • Jim Mordecai

    I looked at the charter for American Indian Charter High School and it provided the following regarding the American Indian Charter High School governing board and pay:

    SECTION 5. COMPENSATION
    Directors shall serve without compensation. They may be allowed reasonable advancement or reimbursement of expenses incurred in the performance of their regular duties as specified in Section 3 of this Article.

    Directors may not be compensated for rendering services
    to the corporation in any capacity other than as director unless such other compensation is
    reasonable and is allowable under the provisions of Section 6 of this article.

    SECTION 6. RESTRICTION REGARDING INTERESTED DIRECTORS
    Notwithstanding any other provision of these Bylaws not more than twenty-fie percent(25%) of persons serving on the board may be interested persons. For purposes of this section, “interested persons” mean either:
    (a) Any person currently being compensated by the corporation for services rendered it within the previous twelve (12) months, whether as a full- or part-time officer or other employee, independent contractor, or otherwise, excluding any reasonable
    compensation paid to a director as director; or
    (b) Any brother, sister, ancestor, descendant, spouse, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, sonin-law, daughter-in-law, or father-in-law of any such person.

    I interprete the above language to mean 25% of the Board of Directors that are Officers can receive compensation for their duties.

    Anybody know what has been the practice of the AIM Board of Directors regarding compensation of its officers?

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    TTYTT, I’m no fan of self-government.

    This country started out with a vision of limited government. Then the Revolution began. It’s been downhill ever since.

    Blame self-government.

    When the colonists were ruled by GB, they understood that the government was a foreign (and non-benign) entity which needed to be opposed at every turn.

    Once the government became “us”, we started to lose that healthy animosity.

    Public education — which always emphasizes that ours is a government “of the People” — has terribly aggravated that situation. But what would you expect from *government* schools?

    Government — in *any* form — always works for the special interests. Begetting new ones. Strengthening old. No escape.

    The only “solution” — which is to say, the approach that sucks least, is to make the government as small as possible so as to contain the favoritism.

    I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

  • Observer

    I’m not really sure how anyone can say it’s been downhill for the US since 1776. What a cesspool this county’s been for the last 236 years! Thats one funny concept :-)

  • Nontcair

    It wasn’t long after Lexington when the State of MA imposed taxes which were even HIGHER than the ones the original Tea Partiers are associated with opposing.

    The USG currently imposes taxes which make the colonial British ones look small by comparison, and it has for a LONG time.

  • Gordon Danning

    Nontcair: As I recall, the original objection was not to taxation per se, but to taxation without representation? Indeed, in the long list of grievances set forth in the Declaration od Independence, there is but one reference to taxes, and it is this: “For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent”

  • Murphy’s Law

    Ann #30 Reposting because I don’t want it to get lost.

    “I had a strong preference for keeping my children in public schools but neither the OUSD nor the teachers union have fought, worked or coordinated to make Oakland’s middle schools safe or academically challenging institutions. They’ve fought to close schools and to keep them open, they’ve fought over bond measures, they’ve fought over contracts, they’ve fought over seniority, they’ve fought over tests and tests scores.

    …OUSD and their teachers struggles with each other are more consuming to them than my children’s education.”

    It is sad how many “liberal” people can applaud throwing immigrant and largely minority children out of safe and high performing middle schools and high schools and moving them into failing institutions with drug, violence and discipline problems which distract from achievement, put them at risk and at an academic disadvantage. The Oakland School Board, Tony Smith, the unions and the wonks have to stop making decisions based on the politics and ideology and start making them based on what is best for children. They have children getting bullied, beaten and shot and they are spending time and money tying to close a safe schools during a crime wave.”

  • Observer

    Ann is completely correct. And the response to the middle class parents is always, “Put your children in these schools and work to make them better!” anything other than that renders accusations of elitism.

  • http://www.parentsacrossamerica.org CarolineSF

    I’m just asking: Is there ANYone who’s gullible enough not to believe that this school — which is violating a whole raft of laws and standards — isn’t cheating its brains out on its “sky-high” test scores?

  • J.R.

    CarolineSF,
    If people are gullible enough to accept lousy excuse for decade after decade after decade of substandard public school performance along with unsustainable salaries and benefits, anything is possible I would gather.

    http://www.city-journal.org/2012/22_2_public-education-spending.html

  • Nontcair

    The “taxation w/out rep” issue was yet another appeal to those who were sympathetic to idea that colonists were being denied their basic rights as Englishmen.

    Of course, to the average guy on the street that philosophical point was a small issue (if it even mattered at all) compared to the fact that they were liable to actually *pay* the taxes.

    In any event, some of the most *despised* British taxes — ie the Stamp Act and the Sugar Act — had been repealed before then, and the dreaded Tea Tax never really got off the ground.

    High taxes legitimately imposed by Bostoners are always worse than lesser taxes illegitimately imposed by Britishers.

    Nowadays the only tax repeals we seem to hear anything about are ones to end tax *cuts*!

    One of my favorite grievances expressed in the DoI is the following: He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

  • Guest

    Aside from the money fraud that is surrounding this school, why hasn’t there been any recent investigations into whether or not all the teachers at the school are properly credentialed? I know this was an issue a year ago- what makes people think they have changed? The ‘principals’ of the school don’t have administration credentials, and they’ve been 3 different ones in a year. Is it different for charter schools? If OUSD really dug deep, there could more problems with the school than just a founder who took money in illegal ways.

  • Nontcair

    Founded in 1970, Public Counsel is the public interest law firm of the Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills Bar Associations as well as the Southern California affiliate of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

    Total leftists who work for the interests of the LEGAL Guild.

    Many years ago Nader founded a group just like it. I still see its name attached to stories about left wing causes.

    Public education is a like a sandbox for lawyers.