Oakland’s American Indian charter schools respond to violation notice

photo of Ben Chavis, founder of American Indian Model Schools, by D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group

Thirteen binders of material from the American Indian Model Schools were delivered to the Oakland school district offices this week in response to the “notice of violation” the charter school organization received this fall from OUSD.

The prospect of OUSD shutting down three of the city’s top-scoring schools stems from a damning Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team investigation which cited numerous examples of self-dealing and conflicts of interest by the organization’s founder, Ben Chavis, and his wife (and former accountant for the organization), Marsha Amador.

The case has been turned over to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. So far, no word on what, if any, criminal charges will be filed.

The Oakland school district has not released the response from AIM Schools, but Troy Flint, the district’s spokesman, says we can expect a summary from OUSD next week.

No word yet, though, on when the board will respond to the response.

“We just received a voluminous response – thousands of pages – from American Indian on Monday night and are still sorting through it. No determination has been made on when this matter will be heard by the Board.”

What happens next? 1) The district evaluates the response.

2) If OUSD staff and board decide the response isn’t sufficient to address the district’s concerns, they will likely hold a public charter revocation hearing, which would have to be on or before Jan. 25.

3) Thirty to 60 days after the public hearing — if there is such a hearing — the OUSD board makes a final decision on whether to revoke the charters for all three American Indian Model schools.

As soon as I have the summary, I’ll let you know.

Katy Murphy

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

  • livegreen

    Katy, Sorry to interject. Re the Tribune’s story today about Prop 39 funds, can you ask OUSD:
    –How they plan to get access to some of this money?;
    –How they can use it;
    –Especially, how they can make heating at OUSD more energy & cost efficient.

    The central and local heating at OUSD are a drain on resources and wasteful contributors to greenhouse gases. Namely :
    -You will recall the central heating that went out a couple years ago leaving several schools w/no heat;
    -At several schools the heat stays on so long (no thermastats?) that at a certain point the classrooms become saunas and teachers throw open classroom windows. Every winter day every year!

    How much does that cost?? What a waste of $$$! Can OUSD get some of these funds and use to reduce these wastes in opw rating costs?:


  • Katy Murphy

    This just in from Troy Flint, of OUSD’s communications office. (Sounds like no summary of the AIM response will be provided).

    “The District issued a Notice of Violation in September, 2012, following reports and allegations of fiscal mismanagement, irregularities in governance, and numerous infractions by AIMS. Of particular concern were allegations of conflict of interest violations, including approximately $3.9 million in personal financial benefit to the founder and his spouse. AIMS provided its response to the District’s Notice on November 26, 2012.

    The District is in the process of evaluating AIMS’ response, along with the supporting documentation, and is evaluating whether AIMS has identified and implemented steps to remedy the serious institutional concerns raised by the District. The next step involves developing a recommendation to the Governing Board on whether to proceed with the next step in the statutory revocation process, which is the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Revoke. In developing the recommendation to the Board, the Staff specifically look to whether AIMS in its response identified and implemented remedies in a number of areas, including but not limited to the following:

    Governance and Management;
    Financial operations and Fiscal Control;
    Adherence to Conflict of Interest law;
    Legal compliance, including credentialing and enrollment requirements.

    The Governing Board is expected to receive the Staff recommendation in January, 2013.”

  • Me

    I strongly suggest that you get your hands on the actual response and do not rely on the OUSD’s “summary”. The response should be public record, right?