District Staff Drafts Resolution Against Charter School At Valley Oak

A District Staff drafted resolution would deny the Valley Oak charter based on three of the criteria fleshed out into nineteen separate points–many of which seem nitpicky at best.

First they argue, “the petition does not contain the number of signatures required by law.” This is perplexing at first given that they acquired over 200 signatures but were only required to get a 150.

What the district is claiming here is:

“The petitions submitted fail to affirm that the Charter was attached to the petition at the time of execution of the petition by the signatory as required by Education Code section 47605(a)(3).”

Likewise the second reason:

“The Charter does not contain an affirmation that the charter school shall be nonsectarian in its programs, employment practices, and all other operations, and not discriminate against any pupil on the basis of sexual orientation.”

On page 53 of the charter they appear cover most of that:

“There shall be no admission criteria, testing, or other evaluation required of any applicant. Valley Oak Charter School shall not charge an application fee nor shall it charge tuition. Valley Oak Charter School shall be nonsectarian in its admission and enrollment policies and shall not discriminate against any student on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, gender, or disability.”

Although they do not appear to cover sexual orientation of (elementary school) children in it. This would again appear to be something that could be amended rather easily and certainly should not be a cause for rejection.

The third section would appear to be most serious laying out 16 points suggesting that the “petition does not contain reasonably comprehensive descriptions of all of the elements prescribed by law.”

Even these sixteen points also appear at times to be subjective and nitpicky.

A link to the charter school section of California Education Code Appears here.

The resolution can be found here.

Jeff Hudson reporting for the Davis Enterprise spoke to Ginni Davis, associate superintendent for educational services:

“‘the district staff has experience and are very willing to consider a charter process and petition based on sound educational practices that would offer students an innovative option not already provided by the district, which is the spirit of the reason for charters to be formed.’

She added, ‘We are only allowed to respond to the charter petition as written and submitted at this time.’

‘We understand the emotional impact of consolidating Valley Oak Elementary to Korematsu Elementary has been difficult for the Valley Oak families,’ Davis added. ‘The district is open to working with the charter group in the future if the school board determines that we should go in that direction.’

Davis also referenced the rapid timeline for discussion. Supporters of the proposed Valley Oak Charter turned in their petition (with the signatures of the parents of 201 children, and 19 teachers) on Nov. 5. Under state law, the Davis school district then had 30 days to hold a public hearing about the charter petition, and 60 days (until Jan. 4 in this case) to either approve or deny the charter petition.

The Davis school board held the required public hearing Nov. 15 (10 days after the petition was filed) and could vote on the charter petition as early as Thursday (31 days after the petition was filed).

‘This fast timeline has not given us the opportunity to work more collaboratively to align interests and concerns,’ Davis said.

Describing the legal opinion expected to be released Monday, Davis said ‘our attorney is completing his analysis, with input from staff, to address more specifically each concern and legal issue’ raised by the proposed resolution on the school board agenda.”

Supporters of the Valley Oak Charter take exception to some of these comments.

Bill Storm, science teacher at Valley Oak and one of the drafters of the petition told the Vanguard yesterday:

“Considering that the organizers will not have the opportunity to meet until tomorrow evening to discuss events surrounding the charter, it would be inappropriate for me to respond substantively. Obviously, we’re disappointed that the staff should take such a position, but it is anything but a surprise given the tactics we’ve been seeing from district staff since before the November 15 hearing designed to suppress our progress. If there had ever been any concern regarding the delivery of services to students, the staff has had ample opportunity to weigh in on any issues whatsoever, particularly since last July, and there has been no such interest. The staff’s drafting of a resolution seems to give their recommendation the appearance of inevitability, and it is anything but that. The district’s goal has been, from the start, to close Valley Oak in order to open another school in a preferred neighborhood, and no one should be surprised that their agenda has not changed.”

Don Winters, a Davis High School teacher and a Valley Oak proponent was equally outspoken:

“It is not surprising to even the casual observer of the process taken by DJUSD officials to close Valley Oak School that the district administration would take the position it did to recommend denial of the charter to the board of education. What we have in this community in a nutshell… are school leaders who proceed to build a new elementary school when one is not needed, promote a fiscal emergency where one does not exist, and select a school for closure based on the least amount of “push-back” from the impacted community. “

He continued:

“Now we have a district leadership who will spend tens of thousands of our tax dollars to hire legal experts to give the “fine tooth comb approach” to a charter school proposal which could provide a quality education for the young people in core area of town as well as the greater community. “

As others have suggested, each of the points in the resolution is qualified under the guise of not “reasonably comprehensive.” Most of the points are actually covered to some degree or another, and therefore “reasonably comprehensive” has become a subjective argument posed by the school district. Ginni Davis has suggested that the school district would be supportive of the charter, however, Bill Storm’s statement indicates that they had ample opportunity to have such involvement over the past six months and opted to not participate. This would suggest that this was not foisted on them at the last moment as Ms. Davis describes. Most of these points appear to be correctable in a simple and rapid manner if it is the District’s true interest to negotiation rather than to kill this effort.

At this point, I think the most telling statement is that the staff drafted a resolution opposing the charter rather than a staff report that the board itself could take up, respond to, question, and then pick their own direction. To me this again suggests that the district staff is bent on killing this effort, demoralizing the petitioners, and hoping that this resolution goes away.

Furthermore, there would seem to be a strategic nature to this effort. By waiting until after this meeting, Board President Jim Provenza, the strongest proponent of Valley Oak on the board along with Sheila Allen would be off the board (along with Keltie Jones a strong opponent of Valley Oak) and they would be replaced by two board members who are more likely to be critics of the charter school proposal.

We shall see how this works out at the Thursday meeting, but at this point, I continue to remain deeply skeptical of district staff and their intentions on this.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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164 comments

  1. Getting the 200 signatures should be a snap as the signer’s contact information is already in hand. Put out a call for help in gathering these signatures again and I(along with many others) will be there. The sexual orientation (for elementary school kids?) statement can be added with the stroke of a pen. The denial because it fails the “spirit” of the charter school principle(was chapter and verse of the charter school legislation referenced?) will be overturned on appeal. For those who think that our school system will continue to keep our home values high, think again as this DJUSD recommendation is yet another “black eye” for the Davis school administration.

  2. Getting the 200 signatures should be a snap as the signer’s contact information is already in hand. Put out a call for help in gathering these signatures again and I(along with many others) will be there. The sexual orientation (for elementary school kids?) statement can be added with the stroke of a pen. The denial because it fails the “spirit” of the charter school principle(was chapter and verse of the charter school legislation referenced?) will be overturned on appeal. For those who think that our school system will continue to keep our home values high, think again as this DJUSD recommendation is yet another “black eye” for the Davis school administration.

  3. Getting the 200 signatures should be a snap as the signer’s contact information is already in hand. Put out a call for help in gathering these signatures again and I(along with many others) will be there. The sexual orientation (for elementary school kids?) statement can be added with the stroke of a pen. The denial because it fails the “spirit” of the charter school principle(was chapter and verse of the charter school legislation referenced?) will be overturned on appeal. For those who think that our school system will continue to keep our home values high, think again as this DJUSD recommendation is yet another “black eye” for the Davis school administration.

  4. Getting the 200 signatures should be a snap as the signer’s contact information is already in hand. Put out a call for help in gathering these signatures again and I(along with many others) will be there. The sexual orientation (for elementary school kids?) statement can be added with the stroke of a pen. The denial because it fails the “spirit” of the charter school principle(was chapter and verse of the charter school legislation referenced?) will be overturned on appeal. For those who think that our school system will continue to keep our home values high, think again as this DJUSD recommendation is yet another “black eye” for the Davis school administration.

  5. I would appreciate an analysis of the politics of the situation. Although it would not be strictly factual, I would like to read something that might give me a better understanding of the district’s motivations. If the district has an agenda to kill this charter as is suggested in the blog, I would like to hear what the motive is – is there a loss of power or revenue with the introduction of a charter into the community? Is it seen as a rejection of the past preactices either surrounding the closer of Valley Oak or more broadly? Is it seen as a slippery slope in terms of other possible charters in the district? Is it a case of it can’t be good if we don’t do it? Is there a problem with enrollment figures at other schools as a result? Any information would be useful.

  6. What is wrong with our district! Is it me our is everything falling apart? I don’t recall a time since the late 80’s that we’ve been so inept. Let’s support all our community members and back this charter school!

  7. I would appreciate an analysis of the politics of the situation. Although it would not be strictly factual, I would like to read something that might give me a better understanding of the district’s motivations. If the district has an agenda to kill this charter as is suggested in the blog, I would like to hear what the motive is – is there a loss of power or revenue with the introduction of a charter into the community? Is it seen as a rejection of the past preactices either surrounding the closer of Valley Oak or more broadly? Is it seen as a slippery slope in terms of other possible charters in the district? Is it a case of it can’t be good if we don’t do it? Is there a problem with enrollment figures at other schools as a result? Any information would be useful.

  8. What is wrong with our district! Is it me our is everything falling apart? I don’t recall a time since the late 80’s that we’ve been so inept. Let’s support all our community members and back this charter school!

  9. I would appreciate an analysis of the politics of the situation. Although it would not be strictly factual, I would like to read something that might give me a better understanding of the district’s motivations. If the district has an agenda to kill this charter as is suggested in the blog, I would like to hear what the motive is – is there a loss of power or revenue with the introduction of a charter into the community? Is it seen as a rejection of the past preactices either surrounding the closer of Valley Oak or more broadly? Is it seen as a slippery slope in terms of other possible charters in the district? Is it a case of it can’t be good if we don’t do it? Is there a problem with enrollment figures at other schools as a result? Any information would be useful.

  10. What is wrong with our district! Is it me our is everything falling apart? I don’t recall a time since the late 80’s that we’ve been so inept. Let’s support all our community members and back this charter school!

  11. I would appreciate an analysis of the politics of the situation. Although it would not be strictly factual, I would like to read something that might give me a better understanding of the district’s motivations. If the district has an agenda to kill this charter as is suggested in the blog, I would like to hear what the motive is – is there a loss of power or revenue with the introduction of a charter into the community? Is it seen as a rejection of the past preactices either surrounding the closer of Valley Oak or more broadly? Is it seen as a slippery slope in terms of other possible charters in the district? Is it a case of it can’t be good if we don’t do it? Is there a problem with enrollment figures at other schools as a result? Any information would be useful.

  12. What is wrong with our district! Is it me our is everything falling apart? I don’t recall a time since the late 80’s that we’ve been so inept. Let’s support all our community members and back this charter school!

  13. I think it is a budgetary issue, I think they believed originally that Valley Oak was the easiest target and I think they still believe that they can break the will of the parents and teachers there.

  14. I think it is a budgetary issue, I think they believed originally that Valley Oak was the easiest target and I think they still believe that they can break the will of the parents and teachers there.

  15. I think it is a budgetary issue, I think they believed originally that Valley Oak was the easiest target and I think they still believe that they can break the will of the parents and teachers there.

  16. I think it is a budgetary issue, I think they believed originally that Valley Oak was the easiest target and I think they still believe that they can break the will of the parents and teachers there.