The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is targeting ten district charter schools for closure (and potentially another six could also be at risk) after citing that the schools have failed to comply with district rules. The schools in question are as follows:
- Alliance College-Ready Public Schools (8 campuses)
- Magnolia Public Schools (2 campuses)
- KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) schools (6 which may be reauthorized on the condition that they demonstrate compliance with district rules in the near future. KIPP administrators have not agreed to that condition.)
*Three proposed charters are also at risk in this dispute: one each from KIPP, Equitas Academy Charter Schools and STEM Preparatory Schools.
In case you are not familiar with the way that Charter Schools* are authorized, they are given an authorization to operate by the jurisdictional school district, in this case, LAUSD. The authorization is given only after a vigorous and intense process which includes the highest levels of accountability and compliance with several strict district rules. They are given authorization for three (3) or five (5) years and then must be renewed by the district. If the local jurisdiction declines the authorization, appeals can be made and a charter can be sought at the County level and then at the state level if County denies. In most appeal cases, the schools continue to operate under the County or State authority. Keep in mind that the local jurisdiction (in this case, LAUSD) loses its authority over the schools once they have denied the charter and/or become authorized by the County or the State. Thus, it behoves the local jurisdictions to work toward chartering the schools or risk losing local accountability. These charters will still be operating within the district, but local jurisdictions will have no say as to these schools once they are no longer authorized locally. The schools will continue to operate in the local jurisdiction. LAUSD currently has the highest number of charters at 224.
If you take a look at the schools in question, they are all high performing schools and in some cases are award winning academic schools. For example, in September of this year, Alliance College-Ready schools outperformed their peers in English Language Arts and Math, according to the 2017 CAASPP results. So what about the kids? The district cites noncompliance with district rules as the reason for wanting to shut these schools down, affecting the lives and futures of thousands of kids and employees! Some of the requests seem confusing to the Charter Schools. For example, the district has asked to include language that KIPP schools would form school site councils, which they already have.
As you may have heard, the current composition of the LAUSD board of education is said to be “pro-charter” because many of the board members have been supported by long time supporters of the charter school movement. That has not translated into every vote being cast in favor of charter schools, in fact, this board has already denied renewals of charter schools that were under financial scrutiny or out of compliance. So, it’s not a given that the LAUSD board will automatically vote in favor of charter schools. Regardless, the meeting on Tuesday should be about supporting kids, period, which is something that all board members should have in common.
The board will review the district recommendations at its Tuesday meeting. We will be looking at the issue very closely. If you are directly impacted by the possible closing of one these schools, I would encourage you to attend the meeting or write an email to your board members. You can click on this link for contact information.
*Charter schools are publicly-funded schools that are run, for the most part, by non-profit organizations, not school districts.
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