Is There A New Sheriff In Town?
For the first time in over a decade, the charter school industry does not have control of the LAUSD School Board. Will It make a difference?
“a charter school that is not fulfilling its agreed legal obligations of repaying their debt to LAUSD students as a consequence of taking away much-needed space should face consequences, such as having their [charter] petition revoked.”
- Dr. Rocio Rivas
The millions of dollars that the charter school industry has spent on LAUSD political campaigns over the years has allowed its publicly funded private schools to operate within the district with limited oversight. This has endangered the health and safety of students attending public schools and reduced the funding available to those with special education needs. It has also had an effect on the district’s finances.
One example of the lack of oversight by the Charter School Division (CSD) can be found in the failure to collect overallocation fees from charter schools that co-locate on LAUSD campuses under PROP-39. Under state law charters that overestimated their incoming attendance enrollment and, therefore, take more space from their host school are supposed to be assessed a specific penalty. However, under the leadership of Jose Cole-Gutierrez, a former staff member of the California Charter School Association (CCSA), the CSD has allowed millions of dollars to go unpaid.
Last April, Cole-Gutierrez reduced the balance owed by 37 charter schools by $7,678,022. While the Director of the CSD did not provide any public explanation as to why the district was allowing these charter schools to receive a reduced fee, a note on the spreadsheet provided by the district noted that these schools had “committed to pay [the] total amount owed for FY 2015–16 through FY 2020–21 in multiple installments via a payment plan.” This suggested that some type of agreement had been arranged where the district reduced what was owed in exchange for the reduction. It…