Finding Out about What Happened During Lull of Washington State Charter Schools
As I have previously stated, I have had public disclosure requests in for some time to various groups including former charter schools in Washington State, OSPI, and the Charter Commission. I am still awaiting yet another drop from OSPI.
I had a very difficult time getting ahold of anyone from couple of former charters and gave up. But, if they ARE public schools, there should be no mystery of who is their public disclosure officer and how to contact that person.
The former charter schools I did finally reach? All told me "March or April" for my requests. That is interesting that school that had been open less than four months at the time of my narrow request can't get the documentation to me for at least three months. One of the them, Green Dot, sent my request to their CFO (?) and he okayed it to at least four other people.
It's this kind of subterfuge that gives charters a bad name.
Here's what I think happened when the Supreme Court came down with their rejection of reconsideration of the case.
1) First of all, there was planning for the ALEs long before that announcement was made. So again to my point about all these adults who sent kids into these schools, knowing how bad it could be in the end -you have to wonder about the "caring" going on.
No, this is about a fight for survival of charter schools, not for these students' academic lives. This was truly about adult issues and not child-centered issues many people.
2) What is the end game if you are the Gates Foundation? Is it just out of the goodness of their hearts that they have thrown over $2M at tiny Mary Walker School District? Nope. What they want is one of their "charter-district compact" where charters and the school district work as one. (This is their latest great theory on education.) This would be via the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) as part of CRPE's "portfolio strategy."
From public disclosure documents we learn:
- Bill Kiolbasa of the Washington State Charter Schools Assn was worried First Place Scholars might be part of the deal.
- Kiolbasa, at one point, says, "This shouldn't limit any changes you'd like met; just keep it moving in the Gates machine." Because all and all, your kids are just another cog in that great big machine.
- Summit paid for five MWSD staff to fly over and check Summit out. I know many public schools that wish they had that kind of money on hand for public relations. This was in early November.
- Kiolbasa writes to charter operators, speaking of IEPs and saying, "it is part of preparation from the conversion to ALE and is not optional."
- People from a variety of entities - former charter schools, OSPI, different staff from different districts - were working night and day right thru to New Year's Eve.
- The "provider" of the teaching services - the former charter schools - get 96% of WA state ALE apportionment allocation for each FTE.
- Charters were concerned over transportation costs but it appeared that those were not covered under ALEs.
- There was worry by the charters over the Choice Transfer Forms and how to "prep parents."
- There were also several references to "truancy" and "consequences."
- There was a reference to the SAO and that schools have to "transfer state assets to MWSD who then "loan" them back to schools.
- MWSD appeared to hire former Charter Commissioner, Cathy Fromme, to work with charters.
- Then there was an odd back and forth between OSPI and MWSD on the issue of testing. MWSD's Tammy Ward wanted to know what percentage of students can be in ALE before they don't have to give testing. What was odd is that OSPI's Brad Howe stated that "as long as students are marked as 'homeschooled' in CEDARS, then they should not receive test books." But I thought all the students coming into MWSD's system were ALE?
- There were also other concerns about the SAO and passing any audit by that office. I know SAO is aware of this situation and it will be interesting to see what they end up saying.
And, between about the beginning of December to the end of December, it is unclear what money - whose money - any of the former charter schools was operating on.
3) Most of the districts, where the students are residents in, had to scramble to figure out what was happening and what it might mean to them. The number of charter students had shrunk (by at least 300 to about 1,000.) Where those 300 students went to is anyone's guess but my guess is back to their home districts.
So districts probably did take back some students. They also had to figure out what their role would be vis a vis the new ALE program at Mary Walker School District. Would they sign the interlocal that allowed their student to be part of the program (which, according to OSPI bending of rules, wasn't technically necessary but useful to have) or not?
Seattle and Tacoma said no. Highline just recently signed an interlocal and it is unclear to me if Kent did (they seem to hedge every time I ask.) But Highline has had pushback from some parents who worry that their district will get stuck with some costs.
Indeed, these interlocals have almost everyone saying, "I'm not responsible." Even MWSD has a back-out section.
To wit, lawyers from Highline and
My clients are concerned that by adopting a process that removes the resident school district, the resident school district is not only not in compliance with the above statutes, but the resident school district also could risk violations of truancy obligations as well as Child Find and IDEA obligations. As the Charter Schools have ceased to be LEAs, truancy, Child Find, and IDEA obligations all fall back to the Tacoma School District as the LEA.SPS's John Cerqui chimed in that SPS had similar concerns.
OSPI's Meierbachtol writes to them on Dec. 14th, saying how disappointed they are in the Supreme Court and the issues of finding how to not disrupt these students' education. He explains how OSPI is doing "emergency rulemaking" and working to "amend" one of the WACs.
On another note . . . Susan Enfield hasn't received any type of communications from Mary Walker. I'm assuming that the charters are currently operating as non-approved schools, as there is been no Interlocal created. If that is true, how does OSPI contemplate getting them their December (let alone January and beyond) apportionment?McMinimee
Sorry to piggy back on Holly, but her email caused a light bulb to go off in my head.OSPI lets them know, on December 16th, that new "emergency choice transfer rules" were drafted. (Remember here that Superintendent Dorn told a Senate committee in January that this was "one time only" which made me fairly certain that these rules were been rushed into play for this group of students. I'm not sure why that is but if I were a school district, I would keep this in mind for future reference.)
(1) The former charter schools ceased to exist as an LEA on December 9, 2015;
(2) With the exception of First Place, none of the former charters have obtained approved private school status via OSPI;
(3) Mary Walker's Board Meeting minutes do not reflect that they have passed a resolution necessary for instruction provided under contract pursuant to WAC 392-121-188; Mary Walker has not entered into an Interlocal Cooperative with the any of our districts or Spokane to provide services on their behalf pursuant to RCW 28A.225.250; and none of our districts and Mary Walker have not executed an Interlocal Cooperative Agreement pursuant to Chapter 39.34 RCW to facilitate Mary Walker locating an educational program or programs within Highline/Seattle/Spokane/Tacoma boundaries; and
(4) Mary Walker isn't accepting students into an online school or program that we are aware of.
Doesn't that mean that every former charter school student who resides within the Highline/Seattle/Spokane/Tacoma boundaries meets the definition of truant under Chapter 28A.225 RCW?
As I see it, Highline/Seattle/Spokane/Tacoma also are the LEA for all former charter school students who are eligible for special education services, and need to be offering services to them ASAP, as they technically stopped receiving services from an LEA on December 9 and are not in approved private schools (and then even if they were, would still be eligible for special education services from the resident district, and nonresidents would be entitled to participate in Highline/Seattle/Spokane/Tacoma's child find process.
McMinimee comes back with more worry and references RCW 28A.250.070
I am not seeing how there is statutory authority for a rule that applies to an ALE program that is not for the purposes of enrolling in an online course or online school program.
Let's see what the next batch of e-mails shows.The office of online learning under RCW shall develop a standard form, which must be used by all school districts, for releasing a student to a nonresident school district for the purposes of enrolling in an online course or online school program.
The House Ed Ctm has scheduled a hearing for the HB. 2367 which is the House version of Senate bill SB 6194. That's next Friday, the 19th, at 1:30 pm in Olympia. (They will also be hearing a bill about simple majority for school bond measures.)