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OUSD Says No to Renewing EOLA’s Charter, Concerns on Police Chief’s Report

At Wednesday night’s Oakland school board meeting, there were few empty seats and dozens of people with speaker cards to discuss the several adult education programs that may be cut. Adult education, however, was not on the agenda and the board did not make any comments regarding any cuts.

Instead, the board approved to deny the charter renewal for East Oakland Leadership Academy High.

Philip Dotson, acting director of the Office of Charter Schools, read the report highlighting why the charter should not be renewed for EOLA based on figures developed over the five years the charter has been in place.

Some of those points included:

  • Failure to meet enrollment target of 200 students and is under-enrolled.
    • Currently 54 students are enrolled in grades 9-12; the most enrolled in one year was 67 students last school year.
  • Failure to retain students.
  • Failure to maintain a 95 percent attendance rate.
    • First two years of charter met this qualification but remaining three years averaged 93.1 percent.
  • Not accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, although the school is scheduled for a WASC visit March 17-20.
  • The school lacks a visible leader.
  • The API scores gradually decreased in three of the four years, although scores last year significantly grew.

Although individual students have benefited from attending EOLA and the school as a whole has made progress in improving math scores, the evidence against them was enough to elicit a vote to deny the charter, which will officially end on June 30.

School administrators at EOLA can go to the county and the state to appeal the board’s decision.

If EOLA does close, students in grades 9-11 will have the option to enroll in any of the high schools in the district or another charter school. Seniors will not be affected at all and can finish the school year and graduate as planned.

Troy Flint, director of public relations for OUSD, said that in the past when a charter school closed, the district held an “options” fair where representatives of schools come and give these students and their families a central location to decide where to enroll in for the duration of their high school career.

Whether that will happen depends on whether the school will appeal the board’s decision and win.

Later in the meeting, Oakland schools Police Chief James Williams presented an annual report to the board in compliance with a policy passed in June 2012 called the Complaints Process and Complaints Reports Policy.

The policy requires that the police department give two reports a year, each covering a six month period, of the complaints submitted regarding police officers on school campuses.

This first ever report had four complaints, two of which where a school security officer physically injured a student. Sufficient evidence found the officers guilty, but concerns could be raised at how often this actually happens.

Jasmine Jones, an organizer with the Black Organizing Project, pointed out some issues regarding full compliance with the policy.

She explained that out of the 18 schools BOP visited and monitored, only Castlemont High School had the policy posted and easily accessible after the district had admitted to not sending  it out and promising to distribute a copy to all schools. Most schools, Jones said, weren’t aware of the policy.

“We have been patient about setbacks, but we would like to encourage the board and the district to fully comply so the next public report can be more accurate in the interaction between officers and students,” she said.

What does that mean about Williams’ report? Is it possible there could have been more complaints and a more accurate representation of what school security officers are doing on these campuses?

In other news, the board approved emergency contracts to start the process of restoring and repairing damage to the district’s administration building from last month’s flooding. The estimated cost of the contract with Restoration Management is about $325,000.

The district will have to pay a $250,000 deductible, which will come out of the general fund specifically allotted for such emergencies. The remaining $75,000 will be paid by the district’s insurance.

Restoration Management will remediate the water damage and has a work plan that will include removing things such as the floorings, ceilings, walls and paint on all four floors and the basement.

It is unknown how long the restoration will take.

Serena Valdez

  • oaklandedlandscape

    Welcome to the Education Report, Serena!

    Not defending EOLA High, but comparing it to OUSD high schools.

    Thinking about Fremont, McClymonds, Castlemont, CCPA, and Oakland High. It is hard to make a case to close the school. These district schools do not fare any better. That is the truth. I think we should set a universal high bar, but the district needs to get serious and look at their own school performance. I continuously hear that Oakland high schools should not be measured by CST’s because students have no buy-in. That’s a clear excuse and is unacceptable.

    OUSD DISTRICT and CHARTERS (used in EOLAH analysis)
    2009-2012 API Average
    Oakland Charter Academy 9th-12th 952.5 (charter)
    American Indian 9th-12th 953.5 (charter)
    Lighthouse 9th-12th 759.0 (charter)
    Oakland Military 9th-12th 735.3 (charter)
    Oakland Unity 9th-12th 703.8 (charter)
    Oakland Tech 9th-12th 690.0 (district)
    Life Academy 9th-12th 674.5 (district)
    Skyline 9th-12th 661.3 (district)
    East Oakland Leadership High 9th-12th 653.3 (charter)
    Oakland High 9th-12th 636.3 (district)
    Coliseum College Prep 9th-12th 618.0 (district)
    College Preparatory Academy 9th-12th 597.0 (district)
    Media College Prep 9th-12th 589.3 (district)
    East Oakland School for Arts 9th-12th 575.5 (district)
    Leadership Preparatory 9th-12th 547.0 (district)
    CBIT 9th-12th 527.8 (district)
    Mandela High 9th-12th 538.8 (district)
    McClymonds 9th-12th 544 521.5 (district)

  • On the Fence

    54 students in grades 9-12. Case closed.

  • anon

    How does a school like Arise stay open and this one doesn’t? By the way , Arise scores not listed above- but they are very low performing, but school board gave hem a pass and even tried to turn them into an ASAM school.

    I think they talk what board wants to hear- culture, diversity and BS

  • oaklandedlandscape

    I hear the enrollment concerns, and again, not defending EOLAH. McClymonds tested 140 students in 2012. Assuming the entire school was around 200 – 250 for a large building. Underutilized. Low academic performance over time. I’m simply suggesting we look at all of our public schools with such scrutiny.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Oaklandedlandscape:

    I think charter schooling is a bad model for public education for a number of reasons beginning with lack of oversight in their deregulation.

    Juxtapositioning deregulation and oversight is an oxymoron coupling. Charter school law deregulation design gives rise to regulation when charters have to be brought to account for how charter school public dollars are spent. The inappropriate ways that charter school dollars are spent shows charter school law to be in practice a failed public policy. But, unfortunately charter school law is not a failed economic opportunity for legal and illegal economic exploitation of the public’s taxes.

    But, another negative aspect of the charter school law is that it destabilizes the public school and the charter schools. The public schools are destabilized as loss of enrollment to charters increases pressure to close schools. And, as the EOLAH case demonstrated failure to achieve promised enrollment level is a basis for closure.

    Consider the difference between MAC and EOLAH is the difference between existing public school and EOLAH as a charter school. EOLAH made a promise and got funding for 5 years to keep its promise that it would achieve minimum enrollment level.

    Charter school laws unintended consequence is it weakens public oversight of the public’s educational dollars and charter law destabilizes both public school districts with enrollment loss to charter schools and charter schools that can’t meet minimum enrollment promises. Doesn’t charter school law seem like an irrational and wasteful way for the legislature to continue to run its state school system?

    It isn’t that the public school system doesn’t need fixing (low enrollment of Mac is a problem) but the charter school fix is a cure worse than the previous status quo. Yet, the charter school money interest will sustain legislature’s failed charter school reform policy.

    Jim Mordecai

  • A coding error

    Oooops, it seems that Smith won’t be getting a new building to play after all. I hope that he can be happy at least with a new office chair. You know, probably the water reached up to the fourth floor…

  • oaklandedlandscape

    @ Jim

    Thank you for your high level policy analysis.

    “EOLAH made a promise and got funding for 5 years to keep its promise that it would achieve minimum enrollment level.”

    So what promise do district schools make? MAC? Castlemont? Fremont? Oakland High?

  • Jim Mordecai

    Oaklandedlandscape:

    Problem of making promises and receiving government money is twofold. If the promise is important to keep the government must regulate the promise and such regulation cost money. But, if the promise is not regulated then there is no way to know the promise is kept.

    All the increased testing is a system for trying to show that promises were kept. There are problems with how accurate the testing system is and concerns that the testing requirement shapes the curriculum. Increased testing will also increases spending on testing and not teaching.

    The economic model is that charters compete with public schools and close down the charter or public school that doesn’t compete. Sounds like that you want public schools to play that economic model game.

    A criticism of the economic model is that children are not objects produced by a factory. The instability of school closures is harmful to a community and a reason the economic model makes for poor public policy in the area of public education.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Arthur Miler

    A bit off-topic, but wasn’t their director Laura Armstrong the same woman who attempted to open a rogue charter w/Dr. Chavis awhile ago? He would’ve benefitted from additional rent and her school would have benefitted from additional ADA income. She is now on the American Indian board…but can’t take care of her own school. Interesting.

    http://www.ibabuzz.com/education/2011/10/25/a-new-charter-school-opening-in-october-maybe-not/

    http://media.wix.com/ugd/8d5ee6_3a2ec93c6e85ce6b168ef8f53d3363e3.pdf

    Surprise, surprise – she was approved unanimously by the AIPCS board.

  • On the Fence

    So what is the latest on AIPCS? Off topic, but I’m having withdrawals from my education news fix.

  • Oakland Educator

    Arthur Miller:

    I don’t think your post is off-topic at all–at least the part that mentions Armstrong’s position on the AIMS board.

    While at first glance it would seem that she brings some expertise (as a charter school administrator) to the AIMS board, it’s clear now that she is somewhat of a failed administrator (I urge you to read the report on EOLA HS that Dotson presented at this board meeting; it’s crazy)–much in the same way that fellow AIMS board member Nedir Bey is a failed businessman who owes the City of Oakland $1.5 million. How can these people look AIMS parents in the eye and say “We’re doing everything we can to save the school”? They can hardly demonstrate competence at the jobs FOR WHICH THEY ARE PAID.

  • livegreen

    Was there Zero talk at the Board Meeting about the current round of school cuts, and its impact on Distric schools? What about in the Tribune? We’re talking big $ here!

  • Luis Mota

    I am hoping that they are not thinking about cutting this blog off little by little, smooth phase out…
    We need information. Thank you.

  • livegreen

    I agree with Luis. Katy’s done a great job. We miss her for both her constant and continuous coverage. From that vantage point this change does not make since, unless the Tribune has found a replacement who can dedicate the same amount of time & coverage.

    Serena will have a chance to demonstrate this (or, more correctly, the Tribune will have a chance IF they give Serena the time & backing to do this) but Katy’s original announcement clearly stated that the Tribune had not yet made that commitment.

    From both the perspective of it’s followers AND the purely business perspective of the Tribune, it makes sense for the Tribune to commit to sustaining this blog. Katy & the Tribune together created a space that many different voices could come to share their perspectives. From OUSD critics to supporters, from administration to union, and everyone in between (and there is a lot of room in between).

    This in turn reinforces both the Tribune’s commitment to community, the “stickiness” of this blog, and the potential for online advertising revenues.

    The reverse is also true: that the Tribune has not made the commitment to sustain this blog negatively impacts coverage of OUSD, a forum for the community, the Tribune’s commitment to our community AND it’s own website “stickiness” along with related online ad revenues (or potential revenues).

    When a company has an existing distribution channel that IS WORKING, it makes little to no sense to replace it with a new POTENTIAL revenue stream. Yet that is exactly what the Tribune is doing by moving Katy to a new assignment before reinforcing it’s commitment to the EXISTING Education Report.

    I have a couple suggestions how the Tribune might do this successfully (if anybody at the Tribune cares, which remains to be seen). In the meantime I hope, Tribune, that you take some of this advice to heart and come up with some solutions (along with an announcement!) to explain to us what your goals are for the future of “The Education Blog”.

    PS. My request in post #11 for more coverage about enormous School Site budget cuts stands.

  • 1day at a time

    @Jim Please answer the question in post #7

    “EOLAH made a promise and got funding for 5 years to keep its promise that it would achieve minimum enrollment level.”

    So what promise do district schools make? MAC? Castlemont? Fremont? Oakland High?

  • Jim Mordecai

    1 Day at a time:

    What I was referring to in my post was the promise made by EOALH in its charter to meet a minimum standard of attendance.

    I think you are trying to say that public schools don’t make performance promises. That is certainly the current law.

    But, it is also the law that charters are granted with the understanding they will keep the performance promises made in their charter. And, it is the duty of the authorizer of the EOLAH charter to consider closing a charter that doesn’t keep its performance promises.

    The supporters of charter schools claimed at the time of writing the charter law that certain parts of the Ed Code would not have to be followed by a commitment to meet certain performance goals.

    However, there have been many charter schools that have not met their promised performance targets and school boards have often not followed through and closed them.

    Closing charter or public schools is a challenge because the people involved often have become attached to the schools their children attend and their interest in keeping a school open has nothing to do with the performance targets of the school’s charter; but everything to do with the parent and child’s attachment to the school.

    Another factor keeping open charter schools that don’t keep their performance targets is that school board members really don’t like saying no to parents. It doesn’t make them popular and elections are about being popular.

    Bottom line is EOLAH didn’t meet its attendance commitment.

    The public schools under current law do not have to make promises and put themselves at risk of being closed when they don’t meet performance promises. That is the current law.

    Jim Mordecai