Failed Citizenship: A Charter School Gets Caught Gaming The System
Citizens of the World Charter Schools collect fraudulent signatures as part of the process to take space away from public school students.
“Receiving these forms simply helps my school maintain their facilities for the coming year. It’s a fun game schools get to play each year.”
- Jirusha Lopez, CWC Principal
Under the current interpretation of PROP-39, charter schools are allowed to demand space from public schools to implement their programs. The amount of space that these publicly-funded private schools receive is based on what is supposed to be a good faith estimate of the number of students the charter school anticipates enrolling in its program. This estimate is supposed to be backed up with a list of students who show “meaningful interest” in attending the charter school.
Even after receiving millions of dollars in grants from the Walton Family Foundation, the Citizens of the World (COW) nationwide chain of charter schools continuously demands space from underfunded public schools. In order to comply with these demands, the host schools have been forced to give up space formerly used for parent centers, computer labs, and special education services. These co-location arrangements have been “marked by arguments and acrimony” and have included actual “scuffles between parents” and “physical, conflict”.
Contributing to this ill-will is the fact that COW consistently takes more space than it needs. While claiming that its “schools are in strong demand” and that they have “more interest than space”, each of their three Los Angeles campuses had fewer students than they projected in at least one of the past four years. The LAUSD has tried to recoup their loss by billing the charter $1,052,428.70 for over-allocated space, but as of November 4, 2020, COW has only…