Judge calls Redding charter school’s bankruptcy bid “inappropriate gamesmanship”
Record Searchlight file photo Members of the California Teachers Association, parents and students protest outside a meeting of the Academy of Personalized Learning in 2014 in Redding.
A federal judge says a Redding charter school only tried to file for bankruptcy to get out of further hearings on accusations it retaliated against union employees — an "in appropriate gamesmanship" tactic that showed "a disregard for the availability of this court's resources."
Now that the judge has not only rebuked the school but ruled against its bid for bankruptcy — which opponents say the school argued would have exempted it from simultaneous hearings — the Academy of Personalized Learning will have to face those hearings after all.
The newly formed union, Academy of Personalized Learning Education Association, has said from the beginning that the academy's bid for Chapter 11 bankruptcy only seemed to be a strategy to avoid the ongoing court case alleging school executives fired teachers for unionizing, since its budget numbers weren't actually in the red when the filing was announced late last year.
But the judge's condemnation of the maneuver is now validation of that, said former teacher Candy Woodson, one of the fired union members.
"It was really refreshing to see somebody ... who is a trained judge look at all this stuff and say, 'Baloney. This is a ploy,'" Woodson said.
Fellow former teacher Mark Youmans agreed.
"It looks like the system actually works, because we felt all along the bankruptcy filing was simply to avoid (the hearings)," he said.
Youmans and Woodson said they formed a union in the first place not for benefits or wage increases but because they and other teachers had concerns with the direction the school was taking. Among their chief allegations was that — despite its public school status — school officials treated it like an elite private school that would only take high-achieving students in order to look better.
APL's executive director, Patricia Dougherty, didn't return messages seeking comment Wednesday, nor did Gateway Unified School District Superintendent Jim Judge calls Redding charter school’s bankruptcy bid “inappropriate gamesmanship”: