Oakland: county school board upholds decision to close charter school

By Bay City News Service

The Alameda County Board of Education has upheld the Oakland school board’s decision to revoke the charter for a charter school that has high-achieving students but allegedly engaged in financial improprieties.

The county board voted 5-1 Tuesday night to deny the appeal by the American Indian Model Schools, which was founded in 1996 and has 1,200 students, many of whom are Asian, Hispanic and black, at three campuses in Oakland.

The Oakland school board voted by a narrow 4-3 margin on March 20 to revoke the school’s charter, alleging that it hasn’t done enough to rectify financial irregularities that were found in a state audit last year.

American Indian Model Schools Director Nabeehah Shakir said today that the school will now appeal to the state Board of Education and also continue its legal battle to continue operating.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo on June 6 granted a temporary restraining order that allowed the charter school to hold its summer session and continue planning to hold classes again in the fall.

Shakir said the school will go back to court on July 8 to ask Grillo to grant a preliminary injunction to allow the school to continue operating throughout the next school year because the school’s appeal to the state Board of Education might not be acted upon until next March.

Shakir said she’s disappointed but not surprised that the county Board of Education denied the school’s appeal.

Joining Shakir at a news conference at the school’s office, Carl Chan, the president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber Foundation, said, “I’m disappointed how the decision was made. It’s horrible to see them attack such a good school, which is one of the best in California and the nation.”

Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Sheila Jordan wasn’t immediately available for comment.

In his ruling earlier this month, Grillo said American Indian Model Schools “appears to be functioning at a high level” and he thinks its students should be allowed to “do what students do, which is study” during the appellate process.

Oakland school district spokesman Troy Flint said after the court ruling that the school board voted to revoke American Indian Model School’s charter “to protect the taxpayers” because the school abused the public’s trust by misusing public funds.

He said financial improprieties at the school have been documented by three different agencies.

U.S. News and World Report has ranked American Indian Model Schools as one of the top schools in California and the nation, but Flint said the school’s directors haven’t adequately improved its financial practices.

(Copyright 2013 Bay City News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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