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The Education Report: In split vote, OUSD board puts American Indian charter schools on notice

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Friday, September 28th
By Katy Murphy

Last night, as the Oakland school board issued a 1,080-page “notice of violation” to all three American Indian Model Schools over its fiscal and governance practices. (Link to the massive file here.) It’s the first step in a long process that could end in the closure of all three schools.

Supporters of the charter school organization begged for four more weeks, noting the hiring of a new financial team and the appointment of some new board members. And, of course, the schools’ near-perfect test scores.

Paul Minney, a lawyer representing AIM Schools, told the board that if it tabled the decision for a month, “…we are confident that we can arrive at an action plan to fully assuage the district’s concerns.”

“A notice of violation creates a high degree of fear, uncertainty and anxiety,” he said.

But the appeals made by Minney and the stream of parents and students after him were not enough to sway the board, which voted 4-2 to issue the notice. Board members Alice Spearman and Chris Dobbins voted no, and Noel Gallo was absent.

OUSD’s General Counsel Jacqueline Minor argued that the organization has had months to address the district’s concerns. District staff members raised many of the same issues at an April charter renewal hearing. And a state audit which formed the basis for this violation notice — investigators found that AIM’s founder, Ben Chavis, his wife, and their various businesses collected $3.8 million in wages and contracts between 2007 and 2011 — was published in June.

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