CCSA Responds to East Bay Times Story on Alameda County Grand Jury Report

June 25, 2016

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The following is CCSA's response to an article in the East Bay Times, "Grand jury report: better management needed of Oakland's charter schools."

CCSA disagrees with many of the assertions laid out in a report from the Alameda County Grand Jury and reported on by the East Bay Times. We find the report lacking understanding of the depth and nuance in both law and practice of charter schools across California. Furthermore, the report is oversimplified in both its definition of the issues and recommended solutions. For example,

  • Charter public schools in Oakland are increasing performance and graduation rates for all students, while serving a student body that reflects the community.
  • The report misrepresents the purpose and function of a SELPA. While the author is correct that a SELPA is designed to offer a full continuum of placement options for all students, charters were not provided with equitable access to the District/SELPA resources, therefore, prompting them to look for a separate SELPA that would ensure they had access to the funding, supports and services needed to serve their students.
  • Charter schools must operate in accordance with state and federal law. They must abide by health and safety laws, and cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Charter school governing bodies are often subject to various business regulations, such as ethical financial practices, and public body rules, such as open meeting laws, and like all public school districts, must have an annual independent financial audit in accordance with state rules. Charter schools also have oversight from their authorizers (the local school district, county office of education or State Board of Education). Authorizers review financial reports, have the authority to conduct audits, determine if the charter school should be renewed at the end of the charter school's term (usually every five years) and can revoke a charter school for violations of law, fiscal mismanagement, or if the school is not meeting pupil academic outcomes or the terms of its charter.
  • It is unrealistic to ask charter schools to sign on to the Equity Pledge when it does not yet exist in final form.
  • Access to equitable and affordable facilities is one of the greatest challenges faced by charter schools. Charter schools do not have equitable access to facilities or facilities funding, and often must pay for facilities out of their general operating funds. Charter schools also rarely have access to local school bonds or parcel taxes that benefit traditional schools.

For more information on how charter schools are funded, held accountable, and for general information visit: