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Charter School Under Cheating Probe Aims to Open in Carlsbad

Charter school Oxford Preparatory Academy with campuses in Chino and south Orange County hopes to open a Carlsbad branch in the fall of 2013 and is applying for charter school status in the Carlsbad Unified School District.

Update: The Carlsbad school board unanimously voted to deny the charter petition submitted by Oxford Preparatory Academy at the Dec. 5 meeting.

Last week, parents were sent a letter on Oxford Preparatory Academy letterhead from fundraising parents saying: “In the fall of 2013, it is our goal to open a kindergarten through eighth grade public charter school, Oxford Preparatory Academy Carlsbad.”

But in Orange County, Oxford Prep is under investigation in a cheating scandal connected to staff.

San Juan Capistrano Patch has been covering the story.

Related: Charter School Cheating Probe Sparks Clash with CUSD

On Oct. 10,  Patch editor Penny Arévalo wrote that OPA’s “effort to investigate allegations that its staff cheated during standardized testing in spring is under fire from the Capistrano Unified School District, which has launched its own probe and questioned the objectivity of the school’s investigation.”

OPA is hosting a parent information meeting in Carlsbad on Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Carlsbad Senior Center for those who want to learn more about the proposed K-8 charter program.

The school aims to serve students from Vista, San Marcos, Oceanside, La Costa, Encinitas and Del Mar “as well as surrounding areas,” the letter to parents said.

In a phone interview, Carlsbad school board President Kelli Moors said Oxford is applying to open in the district and the board will accept the proposal at Wednesday night’s meeting.

According to the school board agenda (attached): “The governing board shall hold a public hearing on the provisions of the Oxford Preparatory Academy charter school petition, at which time the governing board of the school district shall consider the level of support for the petition by teachers employed by the district, other employees of the district, and parents.”

Moors said the board then has 30 days to come up with a response.

OPA parent enthusiasts were being asked to bring interested parents to the 6 p.m. board meeting at the District Office wearing the school’s teal color in support.

Deanne Goodman (Editor) October 25, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Update: OPA has concluded its investigation and found no evidence of cheating: http://sanjuancapistrano.patch.com/articles/opa-investigator-finds-no-basis-for-cheating-allegations The San Juan Capistrano School District's investigation is still going on.
Deanne Goodman (Editor) October 25, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Thanks Ann. The letter is now attached to the story.
Sarah October 26, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Really? They investigated themselves and say they did nothing wrong...wow. I'm sure it was completely honest. And Ann G., don't fool yourself, OPA does not have as much community support as they want you to believe. Many parents in Mission Viejo do not support this school. It's a little hard for you as a Carlsbad parent to have any input on their standing in our community.
Cbad parent for public schools October 26, 2012 at 03:24 AM
It would be a detriment to CUSD in approving this charter. It does not benefit the whole community and takes away from the good public schools that already exist in the area. It takes away funds, facilities, and will probably result in layoffs of the outstanding teachers to staff this school due to decreased enrollment. Charter schools are not the answer and are an "escape" from accountability. Well rounded educations are a norm in the "typical" public schools around here anyway.
Alyssa T. October 26, 2012 at 06:20 AM
Cbad parent.. OPA IS a public school. I pay taxes and so are many, many other parents in Carlsbad who want this choice. Why should we be forced to go to the current public schools and not be given a choice?
Alyssa T. October 26, 2012 at 06:25 AM
Sarah, OPA's enrollment and LONG list of waiting list speaks for its demand and support from parents of Capo. The people who are not supporting OPA are the ones who wants to be in the school but can't, and of course the teachers' union. That is the reality.
Carlsbad Mom October 26, 2012 at 05:34 PM
We already have good K-8 options in Carlsbad and do not need Oxford Prep. If Oxford Prep is trying to break into North County (were already turned down by Oceanside Unified in January), let them keep looking in another district that truly needs better options.
Fighting for CUSD October 26, 2012 at 05:37 PM
There are already plenty of options for kids in Carlsbad for school, if you want your kids to have a travel abroad option, send them to Pacific Ridge, if you want them to have a religious option send them to St. Patricks or Tri-City Christian, if you want them to have a hands on approach with project based learning send them to Jefferson's IB program, high API go to Pacific Rim with a 972. All choices for CUSD parents. This is not the time to put more financial strain on CUSD's already strapped budget. We do not have space to accommmodate a school for 600-800 students with mostly whether you choose to believe it or not, are parents and students from Oceanside and Vista who don't have a great district, so CUSD will have to cover the cost os these students between 30-100%. This comes directly from the CUSD general fund, taking away from Carlsbad kids. if this petetion were to be approved it would require CUSD to move already placed students in their home school to make room for a charter school, this law was set up to help districts who have surplus properties, who needed to fill them Carlsbad does not, so I ask you why would we relocate CUSD families to accomodate a few CUSD families and several Oceanside? Not one OPA parent could accurately tell me where the funding was going to come from and a few made up all kinds of explanations. If we weren't a basic aid district, it might be a another option. Oceanside declined them, it is time for Carlsbad to do the same!!
Alyssa Trask October 26, 2012 at 05:57 PM
I don't want anyone to be misled, the person posting under "Alyssa T." is not me, Alyssa Trask, the PTA president of Pacific Rim. I have not made any posts, and I am worried that this person is trying to put words in my mouth. I will not and have not posted my opinions, I feel they are my private thoughts. I am upset that this person is misrepresenting me, as I am not aware of anyone else in the community with my name and initial. If I am wrong, I am sorry, but whomever you are, please change your screen name. Alyssa Trask, PTA President, Pacific Rim Elementary.
Ann G. October 26, 2012 at 09:30 PM
I have removed my posts, I sincerely believe in Oxford but to try and convince other Carlsbad parents in this manor, is pointless. I know as a parent who wants this school, and you should know there are many of us, we want another option for public education. I hope the best for all the kids in cusd.
OC Parent October 27, 2012 at 03:54 AM
Charter schools are funded in the same manner as non-charter (i.e. traditional public schools) are funded through ADA (average daily attendance). The funds follow the student. In regards to facilities Prop 39 passed by California voters in 2000 was written to ensure similar facilities are provided for students attending charter schools as they would have at traditional schools. It was not written to help districts fill vacant properties. It was written for the students. There are many options in our district (Capo) but none have a program like OPA's program. So even with all the options you have in your district some parents are looking for a different option. For us OPA engages our children in their education in many ways that their previous school did not. I am grateful to have choices in public education.
Alyssa T. October 27, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Alyssa Trask, it is a mere coincident that we have the same first name and initial. I am not claiming nor am I pretending to be you. Hope you don't get slack. It is not my intention to insinuate that the PTA pres. at PacRim is posting.
KATON M. October 27, 2012 at 04:35 AM
CUSD does have great schools, no one is against our teachers, district, or the great education our children are so fortunate to have. Oxford should be available as another option in CUSD for those parents who would like another choice of PUBLIC schooling. It is not an option for Carlsbad parents to enroll their children into PacRim. CUSD should not be threatened by Oxford, but rather embrace their coming into town as having another excellent school in a already high performing district. Regardless if you will send your children to Oxford, we should all be able to have this choice.
spinerep October 27, 2012 at 05:16 AM
PacRim & schools in CUSD are great. HOWEVER, as great as they are, they DO NOT provide the programs that OPA offers. I know that my children have not been offered any foreign languages, music, or science lab. If you are pleased @PR, that's great! You don't have to enroll your children, but don't try to tell me as Carlsbad tax-paying parent that I can't have this choice. How do you explain keeping a campus which is bleeding the district to house under 300 students when all other schools in the district are all above 600+ students. As I recalled, all of us were trying have BV close last year but Roach thought he was being smart by keeping the campus open to pleased the 50+ families @ BV. As a business man, I can't imagine the all the financial details that require years in education to understand. Why & how could anyone expect a parent to explain how/where the funds are coming from? I have talked to these parents who are out there gathering signatures. They just want to have OPA as another choice in our district, they are all seeking the education OPA offers. They are not financial experts when it comes to all the financial dealing & details between a charter school & CUSD. I would imagine the complications is beyond understanding for the typical C'bad parent. The more important question to ask is how CUSD is operating in the red, yet we have no music or foreign language? Where did the $$ go? Fundamental reason for having OPA as an option in CUSD is our kids.
Good Life In Carlsbad October 27, 2012 at 05:40 AM
So unless everyone attends your schools, you can leave for private schools. Yes, this sounds fair. Your analysis of the financial regarding funding is pure speculation, unless all the financial details of have been negotiated with CUSD and OPA and I am not aware of it. Taking from Carlsbad kids, really? My kids are C'bad kids. There are many, many, many families in C'bad supporting OPA, not just a few. We all know what exactly what we signed. Make no mistake about it. I only wish I those parents got to me sooner, the forms was circulating around my daughters school and I am grateful I came across it. Oh, and since when should we do what Oceanside does, they have a horrible district because they couldn't recognize a good thing if it hits them in the face. Frankly, thank goodness they rejected OPA. OPA belongs in Carlsbad.
cbaddad October 30, 2012 at 10:06 PM
I'm not threatened by OPA at all. I am upset by the lack of info Cbad parents have about how a charter school is financed in a Basic Aid district. Do any of you even care how much $$ you'll be paying to educate students from outside of Cbad? When OPA's admin was asked about how financing works in a Basic Aid district, which is what CUSD is, detailed info got fuzzy. I agree, choice is fine. Why not VOTE to adequately fund CUSD schools on 11/6? Parents want choice but don't want to pay for it (or they'd go to PacRidge). They could care less whether it takes funds from kids who want to stay in CUSD! (Oside kids (ADA) will get 70% from state & 30% from CUSD gen fund. Encinitas kids (BA) get 100% from CUSD gen fund. Your prop tax $s will pay for non-residents to attend this charter school.) You want foreign language - vote for it! You want travel abroad for your child (which u pay for at OPA!) - vote for it! You want musical instrument instruction - vote for it! It's really that simple. Uninformed parents are going to need to realize that Sacramento, since Prop 13 in the 70's, has been underfunding great public schools like CUSD and dividing $ into charter schools (can CA really afford 2 public school systems??) - the sad part is that charter school supporters will eventually be (and a lot already have been) suffering the same underfunding fate that ALL public schools will in CA. Just wait...or better yet - GO VOTE for education! Then we can all have choices!
Ann G. October 31, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Can we vote out the current way education funds are spent in Sacramento? Look at how much starts in Sacramento and how little makes it into the classroom? Can we vote out the unions, vote out high paid administrators, vote out bad teachers and pension plans, vote in 401K plans and keep good teachers? When traditional public ed. can run with out the restrictions and over head costs and union regulations then we would not need charters. Yes, vote but we also should have a say where our tax dollars go and I know mine will be better spent at OPA, regardless if a few students come from out of district, which will be up to the CUSD. Many of us refuse to throw more money away. I believe that charters are the wave of the future, get on board or get out of the way. Plus I DON'T believe voting all these new props will get my child an instrument, I truly wish it was that easy. Big money groups and individuals are running these props, read the fine print to see who is endorsing these props, whose interests are they looking out for? I want the best education for my children I can't sit and wait for Sacramento, CUSD and board to figure it out. There are great charter schools that have figured it out and large donors and foundations that see the future of education and want to be apart of it, as do we. No we can't afford our traditional public school system as it is we are held hostage to it. So when it collapses through the dust and ashes there left standing will be charter schools.
UmaCanon November 01, 2012 at 02:55 AM
cbaddad, it is that simple right? Just vote for adequate funding and we'll have music, science labs, foreign language for K-8, and ipads for all middle school kids. What have we been thinking! Prop 30 is sponsored by SEIU and the CTA! And we know they do not have our kids interests at heart. They are out to keep their pensions funded. To that I say VOTE NO on Prop. 30. A large number of Carlsbad students need another way of education, and they deserve to have this school. The one-size-fits-all education is not working for these kids. All money that comes from the state funnels through the district and by the time it trickles down to the students, there is a fraction of it left for basic programs. Please explain to me how a CUSD students attending OPA will take away from general fund when we are paying taxes. No, California is cannot afford to continue to have the way public schools are being run by unions. I say scrap the unions and start focusing on the students.
Wrkingmom November 28, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Have you read the negative reviews by parents at Oxford? The curriculumn your sold is not necessarily the curriculumn that you get... the turnover is high, and the administration is slow in reacting... 'be patient' they say... As I see the math... Carlsbad will be pay to educate 200-400 out of district students. 30% Oceanside - 100% Encinitis. This draws from our already low revenues. So in the end, everyone hurts... there is less money to go around... Oh and I hope everyone understands that unless you were an original founding member (signature gatherers) as a Carlsbad student you don't have a guarantee that you would be accepted... so your tax dollars go to pay for the education of an Oceanside, Encintis, Vista, San Marcos student...
say NO to Teachers' Union December 05, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Wrkingmom, have you read and heard all the negative comments and high turn within CUSD????? Or is this does not apply? OPA has waiting list a mile long. This is not without merits. What about the Carlsbad residents who own homes and pay taxes (some on multiple homes) who support OPA as another choice in the district? There is no "founders". There are parents in Carlsbad from all the schools who volunteered their time without being asked by OPA or anyone else. How in the heck did you get 200-400 out of district students???!!!! Have you seen the official excel sheet sent in to CUSD by OPA? How about 700 students in Carlsbad signed up. Let's not go into how the district used the mafia imtimidation tactics to disqualified those signatures. "Mrs. (insert name) why are you going to pull (child's name) out and enrolling him/her in OPA in September?" The school is not here yet! Charter shools have to conduct a lottery for admission. And if you say "Yes" you will enroll your child, the district will disregard your signature anyway and mark 0. I understand the district is threatened by OPA and its success, but to use scare tactics, telling parents lies, and being decietful is a new low. So everyone should not EVER bring change or have options in the district? We should all be happy with the district schools that are bound to the teachers union?? To that I say, NO to CUTA!!!
say NO to Teachers' Union December 05, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Have you read and heard all the negative comments and high turn within CUSD?OPA has waiting list a mile long. This is not without merits. What about the Carlsbad residents who own homes & pay taxes (some on multiple homes) who support OPA as another choice in the district? There are no "founders". There are parents in Carlsbad from all the schools who volunteered their time w/o being asked by OPA or anyone else. How in the heck did you get 200-400 out of district students? Have you seen the official xcel sent in to CUSD by OPA? How about 700 students in Carlsbad signed up. Let's not go into how the district used the mafia imtimidation tactics to disqualified those signatures. "Mrs. (insert name) why are you going to pull (child's name) out and enrolling him/her in OPA in September?" The school is not here yet! And if you say "Yes" you will enroll your child, the district will disregard your signature anyway & mark 0. Parents were shocked to find that the district's break down of their schools to show 0 students when they clearly said YES. I understand the district is threatened by OPA & its success, but to use scare tactics, lies, & being deceitful is a new low. Is this what CUSD is resorting to? This does not look good for the district at county level, at which point, the district will have no controll of how many out of district students can enroll. So everyone should not EVER bring change or have options in the district? If it's up to CUTA, it will be the case.
Sarah S. December 05, 2012 at 01:45 AM
AMEN! That is all I can say! Let's hope the board does the right thing and lives up to their own motto, "a district of choice". Also at the last meeting everything the teacher's association president said was complete lies, OPA monitors, and holds accountable their teachers more then CUSD does. I guess in her hours of reading the charter that weekend she chose to skip that section, but she made sure to stand in front of the board and parents and lie! So the lies are out there it is sad to witness it from an adult or person in power. Oh and her last words were what about the students who can't go to the "classy" school, so all the other schools in CUSD aren't classy?? Well it was a very "unclassy" comment and it got a laugh, from the anti-OPA side of the room but for those who laughed, let's see who is laughing last! Also for those who think that the teachers at OPA will be straight out of college there will be a mix of old and new many will jump ship and did when the other OPA's opened they also knew a good thing when they saw it, some left 20 years behind of tenure, pensions etc. to work at Oxford. BTW I said yes and clearly I did not count, sad again what those in power are doing. Tomorrow should be interesting....I am praying that they can be rational and not twist, lie, and use scare tactics to turn the public against OPA.
Erika Schulte December 06, 2012 at 06:58 AM
I am terribly saddened that this petition was denied tonight (but not surprised, given the stranglehold that teachers unions have in CA). I am a parent at Oxford Prep in South OC, and my son is enjoying his second year at our school. The dedication of our teachers is ASTONISHING - they believe in the system, they take genuine care and interest in their students, ** especially** the students who have challenges or may be struggling, and they ensure that our children are engaged and learning and JOYFUL about it each and every day. My son's favorite class is computer lab; he also has PE 2x per week and in PE is learning a new bone and muscle each week. He is learning Italian and geography and science and more, each day. Oxford teaches social studies and science in the lower grades, not just because the content is important, but also because studies show that this is how younger students develop reading comprehension - through non-fiction! But most importantly, ALL students are celebrated, and ALL students are encouraged and supported. What a different state we would have if all public school employed this inclusive, supportive approach! Rather than be defensive and adversarial, districts should put THE STUDENTS first, cooperate and collaborate with Oxford and raise academic achievement for ALL students. Isn't that the most important thing?
Erika Schulte December 06, 2012 at 07:07 AM
Oh, and let's be clear. A brand new school does not achieve a 993 API score with teachers who are anything less than the gold standard and beyond. To suggest that Oxford teachers are somehow inferior is hilariously preposterous. Quite the opposite - in fact, some are award-winning teachers who were subsequently spit out of the current traditional public school system simply because of the one factor out of their control - their seniority number. It's time we support a system where teachers are elevated, celebrated, and rewarded based on their abilities and accomplishments, not simply their tenacity when it comes to just "hanging in there."
Erica Cox December 06, 2012 at 03:44 PM
What a shame for your kiddos. My 3 kids (including one with an IEP) all attend OPA-SOC and we have felt so blessed to be part of the school and the amazing community it creates. My two older kids both experienced 200+ jumps in their STAR testing and we no longer have fights or tears with homework. they "get it", they understand what they are learning and their comprehension has just grown by leaps and bounds. What was their reasoning behind the denial? Two schools already are open, doing beyond what anyone else is doing, with dedicated and experienced staff and teachers. What more did they want? Was it from the completely bogus anonymous "cheating" investigation? Our district concluded their investigation and confirmed it was absolutely unfounded. Any person (ie, person against charters/school choice) can make up these lies to discredit the school. It is so disgusting. it's a shame that Carlsbad Unified decided against a choice that would have been so beneficial to so many kids.
Julie Collier December 06, 2012 at 05:59 PM
It is unfortunate that the Carlsbad School District voted for status quo in public education. Parents, students in the state of California (regardless of zip code) are not getting the high quality eduction you think they are getting. If you continue to support status quo education policies, it is our children that will pay the price. You won't realize this until you help your child apply to college and they have to compete with the rest of the country. Charter schools are public schools. They offer a choice. Choice in public education not only provides an alternative to students that need it, but competition in neighboring public schools. The Carlsbad Trustees clearly did not take time to consider ALL children in their district. Instead they voted to the status quo agenda of public education. Parents of Carlsbad, I hope this is a wake up call to all of you. Your CHILDREN should be a priority not the political status quo that lead your trustees to vote against Oxford Prep.
R Miller December 06, 2012 at 06:07 PM
I'm so sad this amazing school will not be a choice for tax paying families in Carlsbad and the surrounding community. It is an amazing school with a proven track record of success. There is an on line article in the OC Register reporting that the local school district concluded their investigation and the cheating allegations were unfounded. OPA in Orange County scored an almost perfect score of 993.
Dano Arroz January 27, 2013 at 06:11 PM
We will continue to fight for as many options as possible when it comes to our children's educations. This is not over by a long shot!

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