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.