Oakland’s American Indian Schools Take Fight to Court
A charter school can’t do much without a charter, so the American Indian Model Schools are asking a judge to save theirs.
The Oakland Unified School District yanked the schools’ charter on March 20, accusing the system of fiscal mismanagement.
School managers say they addressed the concerns. The district says they ignored a year’s worth of requests.
The group of three schools filed an appeal to the Alameda County Office of Education on April 18. The county has 90 days to respond. If it upholds the charter revocation, the schools can appeal to the state.
While waiting for the result of its appeal, the school is seeking a temporary restraining order to keep the school district from shutting it down. That will allow it to begin its summer classes on schedule June 20 and plan a regular school year starting in fall, said the schools’ attorney, Greg Moser.
“We need to provide assurance to parents and students that school will go on this summer,” Moser told KQED’s Rachel Dornhelm. “And a court order that keeps the status quo in place is really the only way for us to do that.”
A school district spokesman told Dornhelm there is no plan in the works to take action against the school during the appeals process, and the district will comply with whatever the court decides.
From Bay City News:
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo heard arguments on American Indian Model Schools’ bid for a restraining order at a hearing on Tuesday and is expected to issue a ruling at a second hearing this afternoon.
Moyer said a temporary restraining order would assure students, parents and teachers that American Indian Model Schools will remain open until Grillo hears the merits of a lawsuit that the charter school filed against the Oakland Unified School District on May 23.
American Indian Model Schools was founded in 1996 as a charter middle school and later added an elementary school and a high school.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked it as one of the top schools in California and the nation, but Oakland school district spokesman Troy Flint said a state audit last year found financial improprieties by the school’s founders and a separate school district audit found similar improprieties.
Flint said the school board ordered American Indian Model Schools to bring in new management and improve its financial practices but the school failed to made adequate changes.
Flint said, “Our preferred conclusion was to keep the schools open.”
But he said the district had “no choice” except to close the schools because it believes American Indian Schools engaged in “clear violations of the law” and misused funds.
“We had a legal obligation to close them,” Flint said.