Findings of Fact

January 24, 2012 Proposed Findings of Fact Re: Material Revision of SUSD SECA Charter School. During the January 24, 2012 public meeting of the Stockton Unified School District Board of Education, the Board hereby adopts the following written findings of fact: •

On November 29, 2011, Laurie Crawford (Petitioner) submitted a material revision of the Stockton Unified Early College Academy (SECA). The material revision, in part, proposes that the District’s Board of Education transition its direct governing authority over SECA to a non-profit charter school corporation, Velocity Charter Schools, Inc. The material revision also proposes to increase the number of students enrolled in the high school to 800.



Pursuant to the Education Code, on December 13, 2011, the Board of Education held a public hearing to gauge community support for the revision. The Board is currently scheduled to vote on the material revision at its next meeting on January 24, 2012.



The Charter School Act, Education Code § 47600 et seq., provides the standard of review a school district governing board must follow for appraisal of a petition for the establishment or material revision of a charter school. Specifically, Education Code section 47605 provides that:

The governing board of the school district shall not deny a petition for the establishment the particular petition, of a charter school unless it makes written factual findings, specific to setting forth specific facts to support one or more of the following [underline added]: 1. The charter school presents an unsound educational program for the pupils to be enrolled in the charter school. 2. The petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the petition. 3. The petition does not contain the required number of signatures. 4. The petition does not contain an affirmation of each of the conditions described in Education Code section 47605, subdivision (d). 5. The petition does not contain reasonably comprehensive descriptions of sixteen specific elements required by Education Code section 47605(b)(5)(A) through (P). 1

Findings of Fact

A material revision of the provisions of a charter petition may be made only with governed by the standards and criteria in Education Code §47605. (See also Education Code §47607.) In addition to the requirements of Education Code §§47605 and 47607, in 2006 the Board of Education adopted Board Policy 0420.4, Philosophy-Goals-Objectives and Comprehensive Plans. The Board Policy mirrors the requirements of the Education Code and additionally requires the Petitioner to provide information ensuring the successful implementation of the program set forth in the petition. •

The material revision petition submitted on November 29, 2011 fails to provide a reasonably comprehensive description of the elements required by Education Code §47605(b)(5)(A)-(P). Also the petition presents an unsound educational program, and Petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the petition. Below are specific findings of fact setting forth some of the deficiencies within the revision petition.

A. The SECA Material Revision Petition Does Not Contain a Reasonably Comprehensive Description of All of the Elements Required by Education Code section 47605, subdivision (b)(5)(A) through (P). 1. As the following examples suggest, the Charter School’s material revision does not meet the standards of Education Code Section 47605(b)(5)(A), which requires a reasonably comprehensive description of the educational program of the school, as well as a description of the manner in which the school will inform parents of the transferability of courses to other public high schools, the eligibility of courses to meet college entrance requirements, a description of which courses are WASC accredited and those approved to meet the “A” to “G” requirements. •

The cornerstone of the SECA program is the ability of students to earn units from Delta Community College. While the material revision petition references a partnership with Delta College, the Petitioner provides no assurances or plan for a partnership with the college. Currently, SUSD and Delta are parties to an agreement regarding SECA as a school governed and operated by the District.



Petitioner provides conflicting information regarding the educational program of the Charter School. The revision provides, “we could not fit AVID classes into their daily schedule. As a result, we decided to no longer seek full formal certification, and to disengage from AVID as a program within SECA.” (Page 16.) However, the remainder of the petition references participation in the AVID program with no explanation for the inconsistencies.

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Findings of Fact



Petitioner asserts that students will graduate meeting the UC/CSU A-G requirements. However, the petition does not include and the school does not have a UC approved course list. For students to meet UC and CSU eligibility as freshmen, their high school courses must appear on a UC approved course list.



The material revision petition does not provide a comprehensive description of the school’s plan for English Learners. The material revision states that the school will identify EL students by the Home Language Survey, CELDT testing, and by teacher observations with parents and students. However, student identification may only be done through the use of the home language survey and subsequent CELDT identification. Observations play no role in the identification of EL students. In addition, the plan for the education for English Learners is essentially non-existent. The school plans to provide “support and resources” and will “mainstream” students as their way to provide English language development. However, State and federal laws require that English learners receive specific additional instructional time in English language development; however, no descriptions of the plan or resources are given here. Furthermore, the law requires that students’ progress be monitored. EL and re-designated proficient students must be monitored and no such monitoring plan is noted. Given that 28% of the District’s students are English learners, a more expansive plan should be in place.



The petition does not provide a reasonably comprehensive description of the Special Education program. The terminology and lack of specificity indicate that the Charter School has a limited understanding of special education requirements. Petitioner also fails to recognize and acknowledge the charter school’s responsibility for the provision of special education services, or the needed communications between the school and parents. For example, throughout the special education section there is language that says: "The language that follows is not meant to unilaterally bind the District, or to preclude alternative arrangements between the District and the Charter School as agreed upon in a MOU." This language indicates the lack of a concrete plan for SECA to provide special education services to its students. Further, the material revision petition contemplates that in the 2013-14 school year, the charter may become independent from the SELPA for purposes of special education, but does not build in any mechanism of notice or meeting requirements prior to the decision. Such a lack of communication could leave the District over-staffed in the area of special education for the 2013-2014 school year. Finally, Petitioner eliminates without explanation sections of the special education description that are key to provision of a special education to the Charter School’s students.

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Findings of Fact

2. As the following examples suggest, the Charter School’s material revision does not meet the standards of Education Code Section 47605(b)(5)(B), which requires a reasonably comprehensive description of the measurable pupil outcomes to be utilized by the Charter School, nor does it meet the standards of Education Code Section 47605(b)(5)(C), which requires a reasonably comprehensive description of the method by which pupil progress in meeting the aforementioned outcomes is measured. It is impossible to separate a comprehensive description of pupil outcomes from the method for measuring the outcomes. Because these two sections of the Education Code are so inter-dependent, they are analyzed together. •

The academic goals listed in the material revision are poorly defined and/or not measurable. SECA did not meet the progress standards that it put forth in the original petition: o API of 800 each year (not met in 2011) o California distinguished school in year 2012 – not possible due to testing issues. o AYP for 2011 was not met.



Further, the material revision petition claims that the school will comply with all mandated “State” testing but it should include federally mandated testing as well. The school’s recent failure to comply with state testing may cost it from $170,000 to $786,000 depending on the outcome of the second general waiver, which will be reviewed by the State Board of Education later this year.

This inability to meet its original progress standards or explain how it will overcome the recent testing failure is evidence of an inability to meet student outcomes. The material revision petition does not provide sufficient information as to how the school will overcome these deficiencies going forward. There are no assurances that the school has a plan for corrective action. •

The material revision petition does not provide adequate assurances that it will be able to administer state mandated tests including STAR, PFT, CELDT, and CAHSEE. For example, there is no mention of the percent scoring proficient in ELA and math on the CAHSEE. This data should be included as a measureable outcome. For further example, the acronyms used for the STAR program in page 53 are incorrect. It is the Standardized Testing and Reporting program. The CST is only one of many tests in the STAR program that could be taken by students at the school.

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Findings of Fact



With regard to grading and promotion – the material revision petition states that “both quantitative and qualitative information will be considered in assigning grades and recommending promotion and/or continuation in the Academy” (page 53). This description is vague and should be more detailed, or the District and will be unable to ensure that fair practices are exercised for students and that certain students are not strategically encouraged to leave.



With regard to methods of assessment, the material revision petition does not describe how PFT or STAR or CAHSEE results will be used to evaluate school improvement and accountability. It merely provides that the school will use them but fails to include guidelines or definitions.



Also with regard to assessment, the material revision petition provides that STAR data will be collected and analyzed by staff to review academic programs. The petition, however, does not provide any additional information regarding review of academic programs. Academic programs should be measured on a variety of indicators and across student subgroups. Using STAR alone is insufficient, especially when it does not measure all academic programs at the school (foreign language, performing arts, economics, etc.)

3. As the following example suggests, the Charter School’s material revision does not meet the standards of Education Code Section 47605(b)(5)(D), which requires a reasonably comprehensive description of the governance structure of the school, including, but not limited to, the process to be followed by the school to ensure parental involvement. •

The material revision contains a copy of “Draft” corporate bylaws for the Velocity Charter School, Inc. There is no explanation for why “Draft” bylaws were provided. Again, the District’s Board of Education adopted Board Policy 0420.4, Philosophy-Goals-Objectives and Comprehensive Plans. In addition to mirroring the requirements of the Education Code, the Board Policy requires the Petitioner to provide additional information ensuring the successful implementation of the program set forth in the petition. Therein the policy requires “II. 18(c) - The bylaws, articles of incorporation and other management documents, as applicable, governing or proposed to govern the charter school.” Without either a copy of the adopted bylaws or a reasonably comprehensive description of why only the draft bylaws were provided, the material revision fails to meet this standard.

4. As the following examples suggest, the Charter School’s material revision does not meet the standards of Education Code Section 47605(b)(5)(E), which requires a reasonably comprehensive description of the qualifications to be met by individuals to be employed by the school. 5

Findings of Fact



The material revision petition contains no assurances that the teachers hired will be certified to teach English learners. Teachers at the Charter School are not required to hold CLAD (Crosscultural, Language, and Academic Development) certification or BCLAD, the bilingual equivalent.



The material revision contains no guarantee that the school’s counselor will meet any national or state standards for counseling services, or a requirement for a Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential.



While the petition mentions the job tasks of the proposed Executive Director, it does not include any description of the qualifications needed for this key position. This deficiency is especially concerning because the petition does not include any indication of who will oversee the human resource or fiscal needs of the Charter School.

5. As the following examples suggest, the Charter School’s material revision does not meet the standards of Education Code Section 47605(b)(5)(F), which requires a reasonably comprehensive description of the procedures that the school will follow to ensure the health and safety of pupils and staff. •

Although the material revision vaguely addresses a few health and safety areas, it does not provide or incorporate any actual procedures. Instead the petition provides, “A comprehensive set of health and safety policies are on file at the Charter School.” The Education Code requires a “reasonably comprehensive description” of the health and safety procedures. The failure to provide the policies is not reasonably comprehensive. Further, the limited information that is provided does not mention any of the following: TB testing/clearance for staff; the provision of nursing services for students; how the school will meet the Pertussis (Tdap) requirement, or any plan for emergency response.

6. As the following examples suggest, the Charter School’s material revision does not meet the standards of Education Code Section 47605(b)(5)(J), which requires a reasonably comprehensive description of the procedures by which pupils can be suspended or expelled. •

The material revision fails to include adequate procedures by which pupils will be suspended or expelled. Instead, the petition provides the following: Disciplinary issues involving either student safety or potential suspension/expulsion shall be handled directly by the Principal, without Tribunal involvement. Because student conduct on a college campus is crucial to the continuation of the program, when necessary, the Principal shall have the absolute right to remove a student from the school and return the student to his/her neighborhood high school. Further, the school will 6

Findings of Fact

reserve the right to suspend or expel students pursuant to the policy and procedures established by the governing board of SECA. This reference to a “Principal” is perplexing as there is no Principal listed in the description of the program or positions. Further, there is no assurance that students enrolled in the Charter School will receive the due process accorded them prior to suspension or expulsion. 7. As the following examples suggest, the Charter School’s material revision does not meet the standards of Education Code Section 47605(b)(5)(K), which requires a reasonably comprehensive description of the manner by which staff members of the charter school will be covered by STRS, PERS or federal Social Security. •

The material revision petition sets forth a limited description of the retirement options of charter school staff. It also provides, “That the District will forward any required payroll deductions and related data.” Petitioners fail to recognize that it is not the District’s responsibility to provide the school with any rates or data of this kind; direct funded charters are required to work with and report to the COE in regards to their employees’ STRS and PERS.

8. As the following examples suggest, the Charter School’s material revision does not contain a reasonably comprehensive description of Education Code Section 47605(b)(5)(O), which requires a declaration of whether the charter school shall be deemed the exclusive employer of the employees for the purpose of the Educational Employment Relations Act. •

The material revision does contain a statement that the Charter School will be the exclusive employer of the employees of the school. However, the petition then states that for classified and certificated employees at the Charter School, it “shall comply with all applicable material terms and conditions of employment, as delineated in the District’s current collective bargaining agreements with the respective employee groups at the time of this material revision.” There are at least five bargaining unit collective bargaining units implicated in this statement (STA, USA, SPPA and CSES 821, and 318). The petition does not include a description of which articles from these agreements are considered “applicable material terms and conditions of employment.”

B. The SECA Material Revision Petition Presents an Unsound Educational Program for the Pupils to be Enrolled in the Proposed School. For all of the reasons set forth above, and below, the SECA material revision presents an unsound educational program for the proposed students.

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Findings of Fact

C. Petitioners of the SECA Material Revision are Demonstrably Unlikely to Successfully Implement the Program Set Forth in the Petition. For all of the reasons set forth above, and below, Petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the material revision. Below are additional examples demonstrating an inadequate understanding of the programmatic, personnel, and business requirements necessary for operating a public charter high school in California. •

The material revision petition demonstrates an inadequate understanding of personnel rights and requirements on State and federal level. Although charter schools are exempted from most of the Education Code, they must still comport with Constitutional and other statutory rights/responsibilities of public employers and employees. There is not a single mention of the rights of public employees to due process. Further, Board Policy 0420.4 requires that the material revision petition provide “A thorough description of the education, work experience, credentials degrees and certifications of the individual persons comprising, or proposed to comprise, administrators and managers of the proposed charter school.” Although Mr. Hall and Mr. Thomas are listed as the current Principal and Vice Principal of the school, the material revision does not contain a thorough description of the education, work experience, credentials degrees and certifications for them, or any indication that they will continue to work at the school if the material revision is approved.



Petitioners demonstrate a weak knowledge of the fiscal requirements of the school. What is provided is absolutely inadequate. For example, the material revision provides, “The Charter School shall provide reports to the District in accordance with Education Code Section 47604.33 as follows, and may provide additional fiscal reports, as requested.” The word “may” implies that additional fiscal reports are to be supplied at the school’s discretion. However, Education Code section 47604.3 provides, “A charter school shall promptly respond to all reasonable inquiries, including, but not limited to, inquiries regarding its financial records, from its chartering authority…” For further example, the school currently has an existing CDE Revolving Loan liability that will be approximately $167,551.00 at the current fiscal year’s end; this loan was applied for by the District on the school’s behalf and is subtracted from the school’s apportionments that come through the District. The deductions to the apportionment should continue to come from the school’s apportionment. The limited budget provided in the petition does not reflect this entire liability. Though the budget does include budgeted amounts for the principal portion of the loan, it does not allow for the interest expense. This omission/oversight indicates another lack of attention to the details of the school’s fiscal obligations. For final example, the District is 8

Findings of Fact

unable to analyze the projected cash flows because, though indicated as included in the appendix subtitle, there are no cash flows included in the petition as required per Education Code section 47605(g). This omission speaks to the petitioners’ lack of comprehension of the critical role that cash plays in the success or failure of any agency. •

The material revision petition fails to contain the required information regarding the facilities anticipated for use next year. Again, the Board Policy requires a description of “where the school intends to locate to include a description of the proposed school facilities, together with drawings, photographs, site location maps, copies of leases, purchase agreements or other documents to provide reasonable evidence that the charter school facility is or will be safe, habitable, well-suited for its educational purpose, and that applicant has secured or has reasonable assurance of securing the facility for use by the charter school.” Although the petition contains a brief description of the proposed location, it does not include the other required elements of the policy.

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2012 January 24 Proposed Findings of Fact (2).pdf

provision of a special education to the Charter School's students. Page 3 of 9. 2012 January 24 Proposed Findings of Fact (2).pdf. 2012 January 24 Proposed ...

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