Oakland judge may OK charter school to keep operating

OAKLAND (BCN)

A judge has indicated that he will grant a preliminary injunction that will allow a controversial Oakland charter school to keep operating while it appeals the Oakland school board’s decision to close it because of financial improprieties.

American Indian Model Schools, which was founded in 1996 and has 1,200 students, many of them Asian, Hispanic and black, at three campuses in Oakland, has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top schools in California and the nation.

But the Oakland school board voted on March 20 to revoke the charter for American Indian Model Schools, alleging that the school hasn’t done enough to rectify financial irregularities that were found in a state audit last year.

Three different agencies have documented financial improprieties at the school, according to school district spokesman Troy Flint.

The board’s action would have forced American Indian Model Schools to close its doors this fall.

American Indian appealed the Oakland school board’s ruling to the Alameda County Board of Education but that board voted 5-1 on June 25 to deny its appeal. The charter school is now appealing to the California Board of Education but that process is expected to take up to nine months.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo, who previously had granted a temporary restraining order allowing American Indian to hold classes this summer, said at a hearing on Monday that he intends to grant a preliminary injunction that would allow the school to continue operating while it pursues its appeal.

Aiko Yamakawa, an attorney for American Indian Model Schools, said today that Grillo is expected to finalize his ruling late this week or early next week after considering requests by attorneys for the Oakland Unified School District to modify the proposed preliminary injunction.

According to Yamakawa, Grillo indicated at Monday’s hearing that he planned to rule in favor of American Indian because there would be significant harm to students and families if its schools were to close during the appeal and he believes American Indian would prevail on the merits of the case if it went to trial.

The judge also said that the school district failed to comply with a new federal regulation that improvement in student achievement must be the most important factor in considering whether to revoke a school’s charter, according to Yamakawa.

Flint couldn’t immediately be reached for comment today.

Yamakawa said that if the California Board of Education denies American Indian’s appeal the school would ask Grillo to keep the preliminary injunction in place until he holds a trial on the merits of its lawsuit against the school district.

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

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