Mary Walker School District. Rolling in the dough and that would be Gates Foundation dough. So now we're at over $2M for the last couple of years. That's buying them four consultants to help manage the work of the six schools that are going to use ALEs to limp thru the rest of this school year.
Summit - the outlier
I had it wrong in saying that Summit would have to go thru Cascadia for students who live in Seattle to homeschool. First, it would have been Cascade, not Cascadia. BUT, as I learned at the Executive Committee meeting yesterday, those students don't have to go thru any real education entity. Their parents just have to submit a form. (More on this further down.)
Washington Policy Center. The Gates Foundation is not the only big spender; the WPC announced today that they have a couple of commercials for charter schools that will run 700(!) times in the next two weeks. Where they got the money for that kind of media spending is a mystery but I'll give you three guesses.
OSPI - I received an e-mail from OSPI on Wednesday, answering some questions I had asked about this situation. From one answer, it would appear they didn't know Summit was going a different direction.
Frankly, I don't believe there is one single person in the entire state who truly knows the entire story for all the former charter schools. No one.
The district sent out two different emails on the subject of charter schools. (link at the end of this thread via Seattle Education 2010). All bold is mine.
The first was dated December 8, 2015 and it was from Ken Gotsch, CFO, to JoLynn Berge, CFO, at OSPI. The subject line was "choice forms for charters converting to ALEs."
Gotsch was pivoting off of Superintendent Dorn's memo of the same date about OSPI processing choice forms for students from former charter schools to an ALE in another district. He uses some fairly tough wording:
After talking with Seattle Public Schools Superintendent and other senior staff, SPS does not want OSPI to initiate choice forms for charter students who are residents in the City of Seattle.He went only to say they would be following their own district policies/procedures on assignment/enrollment.
He then states:
In addition, I want to let you know that SPS will object to any physical program placement in the City of Seattle without prior School Board authorization.The next e-mail, dated December 17, 2015,was from Superintendent Nyland to Mary Walker SD superintendent Kevin Jacka. He says that SPS is ready to "reabsorb" any students back to SPS.
Then he gets tough:
As we have made clear to OSPI and now to you, we do not intend to subvert legal processes to find ways to fund charter schools that have been ruled unconstitutional.He explains that parents of those students need to ask SPS for a release and goes on: I understand that OSPI is evidently looking for a way to subvert the current legal processes by removing our local control of this process.
He states that since MWSD isn't going to serve those students from Seattle thru MWSD (online learning) and that MWSD doesn't have an "inter-local" with SPS to operate a school in the district, "we will have to consider the legal implications of whether or not it is legal for you to serve students in Seattle."
Nyland is cordial in inviting Jacka to send an inter-local to be reviewed by SPS. But says:
I am quite confident that Seattle will not be entering into an inter-local with you to serve Seattle Schools students within the boundaries of SPS via a charter school.And kudos to Superintendent Nyland for his firmness in this matter. (One interesting side note is that the Superintendent had intended to "mention" this at the Board meeting but "I forgot about it." He stated this at yesterday's Executive Ctm meeting.)
Our board has reviewed the charter school provisions and determined that we did not wish to become an authorizer; in essence that is what you are asking us to do - Authorize Mary Walker to authorize the charters in Seattle to serve students in SPS
Executive Committee Meeting (I'll only cover the former charter school issue here but there was other discussion that I will cover in a thread about the Board meeting and this meeting.)
President Patu, VP Peters and Director Harris were all there, along with Superintendent Nyland, John Cerqui and other senior leadership. Oddly, former director Marty McClaren came in at one point.
I had a bit of trouble following some of the discussion because there was some skipping around. They brought Kim Whitworth to walk them thru the issue of homeschooling.
- apparently OSPI was trying to get Tacoma as well as Seattle to get on-board
- SPS received 120 homeschool forms on Wednesday. They generally never get them in a stack such as this. The issue - legally - is that these students are no longer in a school and had to be enrolled (somehow) in order to not be considered truant within Seattle. Cerqu said some forms seemed to be filled out incorrectly, listing "Springdale" as their students' city rather than Seattle. (Laugh of the afternoon when Cerqui first said "Springfield" and then Springdale and alluded to watching The Simpsons.)
- Whitworth said that generally the principal at Cascade would have a "basic conversation" with parents about their intent to homeschool but probably could not under these circumstances.
A rather odd bit of information about homeschooling came out during this discussion from Ms. Whitworth. Basically, there's one form that a parent fills out but doesn't ask for parent or student ID or grade level. Just "I'm going to be teaching my child." No one investigates what the parent is doing but the person who supervises the child's work reports if it is "done to satisfaction."
On other hand, Cascade students are enrolled in SPS and have 20-25 hours there and each child has at least one FTE class. Whitworth said that's "how the ALE part of it works."
- there was also mention of about 300 additional forms but it was unclear to me what forms they were.
Harris asked, after Nyland said there are really no "burning legal issues", who gives the credit for students in high school? Nyland admitted he didn't know.
Peters had pulled the RCW on homeschooling and said that these forms had to be turned in by a certain data and that it was missed. Nyland acknowledged that may be true but there wasn't much they could do about that. (I noted in my e-mail today to the Board on all this activity that Superindent Dorn also waived ruled in the law around ALEs.)
Harris asked if perhaps an inquiry could be made to the Attorney General for clarification.
There was a bit of back and forth on anything else the district or Board should do but it seems they have made their position clear and will move on.