Filing error delays appeal hearing for charter school

CARLSBAD — Because staff misfiled its original charter appeal, OPA (Oxford Preparatory Academy) is restarting the process to appeal the Carlsbad Unified School District’s rejection of its petition to open a charter school in Carlsbad before the San Diego County Board of Education. 

“What we see in this petition, the appeal (to the county) did not contain the same information that was submitted to Carlsbad,” said Board of Education Chief Communications and Public Information Officer Music Watson.

OPA is required by California Education Code to submit the exact same charter petition to the board as was originally submitted to the Carlsbad School District in order for an appeal to be considered, said Watson.

OPA submitted additional API score and demographic data, while omitting other information that was initially in the petition, said Watson.

As a result, a public hearing that was scheduled for Feb. 13 before the board to receive OPA’s petition appeal was cancelled.

But OPA Executive Director Sue Roche claimed that only four pages of API score data from the charter’s appendix were missing from the board’s copies due to an accidental computer error while the charter was being copied.

“I don’t want it to be implied in any means that the entire charter was different. That is not true at all,” said Roche.

She said the page mix up was completely unintentional because the missing data further supports OPA’s position on a Carlsbad location.

“This material shows very clearly why we are needed and why we think we would be a great partner with Carlsbad,” said Roche, adding, “Absolutely we want that (material) to be seen.”

She said that OPA did add supplemental information about its schools and plans for Carlsbad in the appeal, separate from the charter petition copies, which is permitted in the charter appeal process.

OPA will be resubmitting its appeal to the board Feb. 19, which will allow for the public hearing to be rescheduled for March 13, according to Roche.

The CUSD denied OPA’s original petition on Dec. 5, stating that the petition did not meet half of the state Education Code’s requirements for charter schools.

OPA’s charter petition would establish a three-year charter school in Carlsbad for 800 to 1,000 students kindergarten through eighth grade starting in the fall for the 2013-14 school year.

The CUSD team that reviewed the charter petition stated that, contrary to OPA’s claims, the proposed charter school would have a disparate impact on underserved student populations. The team also brought up concerns about how OPA’s governing body would oversee a Carlsbad location.

OPA administrators have frequently claimed that the CUSD review team and board misrepresented its charter petition.

“I found it insulting,” said Roche about how CUSD representatives portrayed OPA’s petition at the Dec. 5 meeting. “I think that districts are afraid of what they do not know.”

She said that OPA is pursuing an appeal before the county because, “We (OPA staff and parents) want to have a chance to show some evidence instead why (the Board of Education) should be approving us.”



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