Is Anyone Watching The Hen House?
Schools receiving public funding in California are required to fill out a school report card. Why does the North Valley Military Institute not have one on file?
- North Valley Military Institute
The North Valley Military Institute College Preparatory Academy (NVMI) is one of the few charter schools that has been denied renewal by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Based on a report that found NVMI presented “an unsound educational program”, had “substandard academic results”, and was not financially sound, the LAUSD board voted unanimously on November 7, 2017, to end the ability of the charter school to operate under the oversight of the district. NVMI then appealed this decision to the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE). While the staff at LACOE agreed with the findings of the LAUSD, the unelected county Board of Education ignored their staff and renewed NVMI’s charter for another five years.
NVMI’s brush with death seems to have done little to motivate it to improve its operations. Just before the county took over supervision, the school was cited for illegally charging their students to attend summer school and for violations of the state labor code. It was also revealed that a lawsuit had been filed against the school alleging that an administrator who lived with NVMI’s Executive Director had sexually abused students. It does not appear that parents were notified of these allegations at either NVMI or at Sun Valley High School where the charter is co-located.
The charter school also appears to be negligent in providing the public that funds its operations with accurate data required by law. According to School Accountability Report Card (SARC) filed for the 2017–18 school year, “567.0 %” of its students were Hispanic or Latino, and “122.0 %” of the student body had disabilities. This careless data entry renders the report unusable to anyone attempting to verify that the school is properly serving the neighborhood where it resides. The fact that LACOE failed to notice these errors calls into question the quality of their oversight.
While the law requires every school that receives public funding to issue SARC reports on an annual basis, the California Department of Education’s website shows that “No SARC” has been submitted for the 2018–19 school year. This also puts NVMI in violation of their approved charter which states that “the Charter School shall provide reporting to the District as required by law and as requested by the District including…the School Accountability Report Card (SARC)”.
By ignoring the warnings expressed by both the LAUSD and their own staff, The Los Angeles County Board of Education put politics above the children they are supposed to protect. Since these board members are unelected, they can not be held responsible by the electorate. However, the County Board of Supervisors which appointed the board of education does have to face the voters. It is time for them to start answering for appointees that do not perform the oversight required by law.
Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD’s CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.