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Charter school petition denied

By: Susan Belknap, Placer Herald Editor
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The future of another charter school looks dim as the Rocklin Unified School Board trustees unanimously denied the petition of Global Tides at its meeting last Wednesday night. Last month, a representative from the Southern California nonprofit organization Charter School Development Systems in association with Global Tides presented a petition for approval of its charter school that uses online courses and follow-up appointments with locally employed teachers to teach students at home or with assistance from the school district. Without any representation from Global Tides at the meeting last Wednesday, the district’s legal counsel Michelle Cannon, told district board members that based on a review of the petition by legal counsel and district administration, the petition should be denied. Cannon cited several reasons for denial including the fact that the charter petition did not present a sound educational program for students because it did not adequately address how special education students and English Language Learners would be served by the district and the determination that the petition’s “budget and financial analysis” was flawed. The counsel recommendation to the district stated, “the petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the petition. The petition presents an unrealistic financial and operational plan.” In another charter school matter, the board unanimously denied a $1,432,318 claim by Western Sierra Collegiate Academy (a seventh- through 12th-grade institution) that alleges that the Rocklin school district’s offer to house their charter school is non-compliant with Proposition 39 requirements. Proposition 39, enacted in 2000 by the voters, requires that school districts provide a single site campus for charter schools, among other requirements. Currently WSCA is leasing space at Sunset Christian Church as they rejected the district’s offer to house its seventh- and eighth-graders at Spring View Middle School and its high school students at Rocklin High School. The claim against the district states that the offer to house WSCA is based on a “non contiguous site” and that the district failed to “make a reasonable effort to locate the school where requested,” and it didn’t “allocate a reasonable equivalent facility to the school, classroom space, specialized space and non-teaching space.” But according to Kevin Brown, superintendent for the Rocklin Unified School District, a charter school is entitled to facilities based on the number of in-district students who enroll in the charter school. Brown said that when the 2009-2010 school year began WSCA had 150 students enrolled with only 45 residing within the Rocklin school district. Brown said the district does not have to provide any facilities to a charter school until they have enrolled a minimum of 80 students from the local district. “This claim is unfounded and should be rejected,” Brown told board members at the meeting last week. Board member Steve Paul agreed. “It’s unfortunate and it is no wonder there is no trust between the board and this school,” Paul said. According to Wendy Boyd, chairwoman of the board of directors of Rocklin Academy, which is the umbrella organization of WSCA, the claim against the school district is required to be filed by California state law anytime the potential for litigation against any state public agency is involved. The amount of money in the claim is what WSCA states that the Rocklin School District should pay for the facilities WSCA has rented for the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school year because the district failed to meet its obligations under Proposition 39. Todd Lowell, Rocklin School Board president said WSCA’s claim is “outrageous.”