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CCSA Responds to Grand Jury Indictment Involving A3 Education

May 29, 2019

Announces Roll-out of Non-Academic Accountability Measures to Stop Bad Actors

SACRAMENTO, CA – In response to a San Diego County grand jury indictment against individuals affiliated with the charter school operator Academic Arts in Action (A3) which was filed by the San Diego County District Attorney, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) President and CEO Myrna Castrejón issued the following statement:   

“To be clear, there is no room for bad actors and irresponsible authorizers in California’s charter public school movement. We raised our concerns about A3 to the California Department of Education over a year ago and asked them to open an investigation into their activities. Using students to exploit the public school system is disgraceful and exactly why CCSA supported the passage of SB 126, which requires all public schools follow conflict-of-interest laws. Charter public schools and their authorizers must be held accountable to high standards, and we will not stand for violations of the community’s trust.” 

Last year, CCSA wrote a letter to then-California Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Torlakson alerting the California Department of Education to concerns about Valiant Preparatory and A3 and asking them to investigate the matter further. CCSA also raised concerns about local authorizer practices, which it has supported strengthening statewide.  

In September 2018, CCSA adopted a Non-Academic Accountability Principles and Process Framework. This framework provides guidelines on how to respond to issues of concern related to operations, fiscal, and governance practices in cases where authorizers are not providing adequate oversight. The framework is designed to respond to the concerns that member schools or trusted partners raise with CCSA staff, or issues identified through other ongoing work.

In January, CCSA applauded the passage of historic legislation requiring transparency and accountability in all public schools. The association joined Governor Gavin Newsom as well as the California Teachers Association (CTA), the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and other labor groups to celebrate the passage of SB 126, which requires charter schools and charter management organizations to adhere to public records and open meeting laws such as the Brown or Bagley Keene Acts, Public Records Act, conflict of interest provisions and the Political Reform Act.

As part of the Non-Academic Accountability efforts, CCSA issued a Notice of Concern to A3 and asked the organization to engage with CCSA to address ongoing fiscal and operational concerns. As a result of the Non-Academic Accountability process, CCSA sent a letter to A3 identifying on-going concerns last week. They also  sent letters to the 8 districts that authorize the 18 A3 charters to notifying them of the Non-Academic Accountability process that is underway. Letters went to the following:

  • Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District (Valiant Academy of Los Angeles)
  • Bradley Union Elementary School District (Uplift California North Charter, Uplift California South Charter, and Uplift Monterey)
  • Cuyama Joint Unified (Valiant Santa Barbara, Uplift California Santa Barbara, and California STEAM Santa Barbara)
  • Dehesa Elementary School District (Valiant Academy of Southern California, California Academy of Sports Science, and University Prep)
  • Guerneville Elementary School District (California STEAM Sonoma II)
  • Meridian Elementary School District (California Prep Sutter K-7 and California Prep Sutter 8-12)
  • Raisin City Elementary (California Academy of Sports Science Fresno, California Vanguard Academy – Fresno and University Prep - Fresno)
  • Trona Joint Unified School District (California STEAM San Bernardino and University Prep - San Bernardino)