Thursday, April 6, 2017

State commission makes no recommendation on L.A. charter schools’ future - LA Times

State commission makes no recommendation on L.A. charter schools’ future - LA Times:

State commission makes no recommendation on L.A. charter schools’ future


The fate of two Los Angeles charter schools remained an open question Wednesday, after a state commission declined to make a recommendation on whether they should remain open or close this summer.
The move comes amid a federal investigation of the charter network that operates the schools — the Celerity Educational Group. In January, Department of Homeland Security and FBI agents, among others, raided Celerity’s offices as well as the headquarters of a related nonprofit, Celerity Global Development, and the home of its founder, Vielka McFarlane.
No one at the schools has been charged with a crime. But for the last six months, questions about their governance and financial management have threatened the schools’ survival.
Opened nearly a decade ago, Celerity Dyad Charter School in South L.A. and Celerity Troika Charter School in northeast L.A. have test scores high enough to meet the state’s bar for renewal. In fact, the state Board of Education previously was so impressed with the Celerity schools’ performance on standardized tests that in November it voted to allow the charter network to open two more schools.
What’s changed since then?
The board knew in November that the L.A. Unified School District’s inspector general was investigating allegations of financial mismanagement by the Celerity network. But news of the federal inquiry has brought a new level of scrutiny.
Records obtained by The Times show years of questionable spending and potential conflicts of interest by Celerity at a time when former teachers said the schools lacked basic supplies and often leaned on students to raise funds.
The California Department of Education’s charter schools division chose to forgo making a recommendation on Dyad and Troika, a move its director said was unusual. Asked why, staffers said they had too many unanswered questions about potential conflicts of interest and newfound concern that Celerity’s schools might be paying “excessive” management fees.


The state Advisory Commission on Charter Schools — which exists to review charter school petitions and make recommendations to the state Board of Education — also threw up its hands Wednesday.
“I don't want to shut down a school that’s performing well for kids, but the evasiveness and foot dragging … is a huge concern,” said Caitlin O'Halloran, a member of the advisory State commission makes no recommendation on L.A. charter schools’ future - LA Times:



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