Saturday, October 27, 2012

Also, in the "Could This Happen under 1240?" Category

Readers pointed out this news story - a charter school in Sacramento, just 6 weeks into the school year, closed its doors to 400 students.  Just like that.

The story comes from CBS Sacramento.  The CEO claims there are "safety" issues in a building that Placer County said can only hold 75 but had 400.  But the County also said that it didn't tell the CEO to shut down "not wanting to interrupt the school year." 

And in shades of SPS, here's how the parent meeting with the CEO went:

During a meeting with parents Tuesday night, Heimbichner spent the first 30 minutes of his presentation talking about the history of Horizon Charter Schools before someone finally stood up and yelled for him get to the point.

The angry interruptions became a common theme throughout. Some parents got so frustrated they walked out.

“He never answered anyone’s questions directly, and it was a waste of time and so frustrating,” student Diamond Matthews said. 

What was very sad is a little girl, about 9 or 10,  in the video who said a lot of people were upset.

“Some of them had meltdowns,” Claire Daggett said. “My teacher had one and it’s tough.”

This school is part of a charter group in Sacramento that has both bricks and mortar and online learning schools.  What is interesting is that their enrollment form asks for both race/ethnic background and income.  I believe it is okay to ask that as long as you DO tell people that they don't have to answer.  It doesn't say that on the application.

I'm fairly certain that to enroll in public school you do not have to give this information if you don't want to (except for income for free/reduced lunch services).

So could this happen under I-1240 - a charter suddenly closing?  Absolutely.  It's in Section 221 and it only says that the charter non-profit has to return public school funds to the district.  "The dissolution of an applicant nonprofit corporation shall proceed as provided by law."  

There is nothing about perhaps something like a 30-day notification to parents or the district the charter is in (presumably so they can prepare for the new students who will likely come their way).  Nothing. 

Also to note, in the Florida case with the principal who got $519K to shut down her 180 student charter school?  They had over $700K in public funds that SHOULD have been returned to the district.  Instead, the charter board gave her $519K, spent the rest on shutting down the school and returned a scant $10K to the district.  Yes, that could also happen under I-1240.  

The reporter in the piece did get one thing wrong when it was stated:

At the end of the school day, it’s the kids who are now left with nowhere to turn.

Yes, they do.  They have - and will always have - their traditional schools to return to because those schools take ALL students.  


Dora said...

I found out something today about charter schools in Texas. Charters have been there for several years and up until THIS MONTH, no one could look at a charter application outside of the charter commission until approved. October is first time the public can now at least look at the application.

Because of no opportunity of public review, there have been many abuses.

There are truly no upsides to charter schools.

Unknown said...

Many Intelligent but poorly informed people will vote for Charter Schools for the same reason that they'll vote for Romney. They hate the status quo (for understandable reasons), and they want to vote against it. It doesn't occur to them that they are voting for something worse. Different is always better, right? That's what we found out in 2000.

Eric M said...

from the ravitch blog:

A reader writes from Wisconsin:

After our Act 10 passed in Wisconsin, a few of my colleagues and I looked into what it would take to take our game to the private sector and start a voucher school in our town. What we learned was that it would be perfectly legal for us to rent an abandoned storefront in our town and lure students in with the promise of free technology that they could keep, even after they left the school. We could collect our voucher money from the state after the third Friday in September, when the state establishes your enrollment. To keep costs low and profits high, we could use Khan Academy as our curriculum and hire uncertified aides to monitor the students (we had a few recent HS graduates in mind who we thought would make good bouncers). The hastily sketched out business plan had us earning far more than we would as public school teachers, based on our best estimates.

But the real beauty of the plan kicked in after the third Friday in September. Immediately after that, we would start “counseling” kids out and sending them back to the public school. We figure that by Thanksgiving or at the latest Christmas, we would have our enrollment down to zero, then we could fire the bouncers, break the lease, take the voucher money and run. All totally legitimate, as far as we could tell by reading the law.

Anonymous said...

Eric M says: But the real beauty of the plan kicked in after the third Friday in September.

Not so unlike Ballard HS is it? You can get all the special ed students to sign up. Oh right. They will be assigned there by default. Collect all their money. And then use that money to teach other students. Then "counsel out" the kids by telling they didn't really need that special education at all. It was all just a big joke. Pretty neat isn't it?

And look, all without even having to be a charter!


Anonymous said...

Eric M, thanks for the piece from the Ravitch blog.

--Old School Music