Sunday, March 13, 2011

Charter School Shuts Out Investigator

Charter School Shuts Out Investigator
March 3, 2011
by Emily Alpert
Voice of San Diego

I'm not the only one who has trouble getting access to schools sometimes: A San Diego Unified official who is investigating a Chollas View charter school was turned away from the school last month.

San Diego Unified has been investigating Promise Charter, where a group of parents and teachers say Principal Jose Orozco has intimidated parents who disagree with him on school decisions by barring them from campus and harassing their children. Orozco and his supporters have denied the allegations and stood behind his choices.

The school district launched an investigation into the concerns last month, interviewing parents and staff and poring through documents. In a letter to the charter school board, Moises Aguirre wrote that when he came to the school in February, Orozco demanded that he leave and escorted him out.

Aguirre, who helps oversee charter schools for San Diego Unified and is assisting the investigation, wrote that keeping him out of the school was a violation of state law and grounds to revoke the charter.

"This conduct obstructs the District's ability to meet its oversight obligations and will not be tolerated," Aguirre wrote.

Charter schools are independently run, but the school district is supposed to provide oversight because it approved the schools in the first place. Charters can be shut down if they violate their rules.

Orozco said there was a misunderstanding about how the investigation would work, pointing specifically to a section in their agreement with the school district that says that complaints about the charter school should be sent to the school. But another part of the same agreement explicitly says the district can make "reasonable" unannounced visits to oversee the charter school.

"Since then, we have been working collaborative with the School District on their investigation," Orozco wrote in an email...

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