- Debra Duardo, Superintendent
Los Angeles County Office of Education
Last November, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) rejected the North Valley Military Institute’s (NVMI) charter renewal. As allowed by California law, the school appealed the decision to the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), whose staff also recommended a rejection. However, the county board ignored its staff’s findings and approved the renewal. They did so without having a current, certified copy of the school’s required annual independent audit.
While Debra Duardo, the Superintendent of LACOE, does recognize that California Education Code “EC 47604.33 does require charter schools to submit the annual audit to their authorizer, the county office and the state”, she blames the LAUSD for not ensuring that the school was in compliance. She is correct in her assertion that, as the previous authorizer, the LAUSD ignored its responsibility to ensure that the audit was filed since a review of the several Notices of Concern and Notices to Cure issued by the District did not show that this specific issue was addressed. However, the fact remains that the LAUSD did reject the charter’s renewal which is essentially the death penalty for a charter that is not in compliance with the law.
By renewing the charter of a school that had not filed all documentation as required by law, LACOE’s Board indicated their lack of concern that the management of the school was not committed to following the rules. Furthermore, the audit is required for a reason. The section of the education code that mandates this filing states that “the chartering authority shall use any financial information it obtains from the charter school, including, but not limited to, the reports required by this section, to assess the fiscal condition of the charter school”. Yet, the LACOE Board approved the renewal without this information.
After checking with the School Financial Services Office, LACOE’s Public Information…