San Francisco Unified, for example, did not replace any staff at schools who chose the "turnaround" option, despite the requirement that all be removed and no more than 50 percent rehired, federal officials found.
Oversight problems prompt freeze of school reform funds
Corey G. Johnson
August 1, 2011
This year's payout of a three-year $416 million federal grant to struggling schools has been delayed for several California schools after monitoring teams found the state Department of Education and local districts not implementing required reforms.
At a tense meeting last month, unhappy State Board of Education members unanimously voted to withhold funds from 90 schools until they meet all conditions of the grant. The board also rejected the applications of 54 additional schools and ordered sweeping corrections in oversight at the state Education Department.
“I think that what appeared today was a major breakdown in the implementation of an important federal program,” board President Michael Kirst told the Top-Ed blog. “We got a significant rebuke from the federal government and we felt we had to act in order to show that we’re really trying to implement the federal law with integrity.”
Last year, schools on a controversial state "persistently low performing" list pledged to carry out broad reforms, ranging from firing their principals and half of their staffs to closing and restarting as charter schools. In return, each school received U.S. Department of Education grants of up to $2 million each year for three years. State education officials promised to ensure the reforms were carried out.
But when federal monitoring teams went to Los Angeles Unified, San Bernardino City Schools and San Francisco Unified in February, they found reforms not being implemented and the state completely unaware. San Francisco Unified, for example, did not replace any staff at schools who chose the "turnaround" option, despite the requirement that all be removed and no more than 50 percent rehired, federal officials found...