Charter schools in California have come under criticism over the past few years, due to waste, mismanagement and fraud. While there are some excellent charter schools, a number of charter schools that have failed due to poor student outcomes or financial instability, suggests greater legislation and oversight is necessary
The attached article was published in CBS Sacramento yesterday. This is a great place to start the conversation towards completely revamping charter law.
Stakeholders for Transparency urges you to contact the California State Board of Education, and request they deny the petition for Rocketship Charter School. The board will be hearing the petition on March 9, so the earlier the better!
Rocketship charter is known for it’s intense “drill and kill” curriculum. which is not at all suitable for young children.
Rocketship charter has targeted students in the Monument Corridor, promising their families better schools. Rocketships main reason for targeting the Monument community is purely financial. With the new LCAP school funding, students who qualify as English Language Learners, and for free/reduced lunch are worth more money than students who do not. The current oversight of Charter Schools in California is abysmal, at best. There is no guarantee that the additional funding would be spent on ELL programs.
Placing Rocketship in Concord will not create additional jobs, or bring any additional funding to the city.
What it will do, is divide our communities. Our school district is zoned for neighborhood schools. Children and families need the support of their communities, and in turn, work to better their own schools. Rocketship has not been able to secure a site for their school, so MDUSD is forced to offer them equitable space. MDUSD has approved a resolution to place Rocketship at Ayers Elementary, and Silverwood Elementary. Both of these schools have major traffic issues already. Adding an additional 125 students, if not more, will make the traffic in these areas completely unmanageable, and unsafe.
Please, write to the State Board of Education, urge them to uphold the decision of our locally elected school officials, who have already denied Rocketship at the MDUSD level, and at the County Board of Education level.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you may also call the SBE at 916-319-0827 or send a facsimile to 916-319-0175.
In addition, we urge you to write, call or email the contacts listed at the bottom to express your wishes to deny Rocketships appeal to the state.
Limit your reasoning to not having Rocketship in the community at all!
To see the staff reports of MDUSD and CCBOE that support these agency’s unanimous votes to deny, please follow these links:
To see the report of why MDUSD has to offer space to Rocketship:
To see the proposal Rocketship has sent to the State: (item 7)
Additional info regarding Rocketship:
Additional info regarding “corporate” charter schools:
Urge the following to deny the Rocketship petition:
To contact the State Board of Education members or staff, please send an email to email@example.com. Alternatively, you may also call the SBE at 916-319-0827 or send a facsimile to 916-319-0175.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 916-322-6029
Urge the following to contact the California State Board of Education and ask them to deny the Rocketship petition:
Mayor: Laura Hoffmeister
Vice Mayor: Ron Leone
Councilmembers: Edi Birsan, Tim Grayson and Daniel Helix
1950 Parkside Drive, MS/01
Concord, CA 94519
Phone: (925) 671-3158. Fax: (925) 798-0636
Note: For correspondence sent to City Council, City Clerk or City Treasurer, please put Attention; followed by the name of the specific elected official.
Mayor Rob Schroder: 925-372-3501 email@example.com
Councilmember Mark Ross: 925-372-3544 firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilmember Lara Delaney: 925-372-3542 email@example.com
Councilmember AnaMarie Avila Farias: 925-372-3543 firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilmember Debbie McKillop: 925-372-3541 email@example.com
Contra Costa County Supervisors:
Karen Mitchoff: firstname.lastname@example.org
2151 Salvio St., Suite R
Concord, CA 94520
FINAL CVCHS Closeout Report-Conflicts of Interest
According to a declaration made by Neil McChesney in a letter addressed to CVCHS, “I left (CVCHS) on or about March 2, 2015 to pursue other interests, notably creation of a performing arts charter school”. Mr. McChesney continued to receive monthly payments, totaling $9,600.00 from Clayton Valley Charter High School between April 1, 2015 and August 1, 2015 for “consulting work.”
What exactly is Mr. McChesney doing for Clayton Valley Charter High School, besides receiving money that could be spent on the students’ education? Stakeholders for Transparency has requested a contract describing his duties, but have been told that the school needs extra time to “search for and collect” the requested information.
We are especially concerned because McChesney has been working to open the School of Performing Arts (SPA), and in the Contra Cost County Board of Education’s final report, “CVCHS provided the requested written confirmation that no funds were provided to the SPA Charter” and “provided the requested copy of its annual budget, showing no funds have or will be transferred from CVCHS to the SPA Charter.” (Final CCCBOE Report, page 4 – presented at the Jan. 13, 2016 Board Meeting).
San Diego Union Tribune
A former San Diego County superintendent who approved charter schools that later hired his consulting firm was arraigned Friday in San Diego Superior Court on one felony count of conflict of interest, according to the San Diego district attorney’s office.
The allegation facing Steve Van Zant, who currently is superintendent of the Sausalito Marin City School District, dates to May 2010 while he was superintendent of the Mountain Empire Unified School District.
According to the criminal complaint, Van Zant “did willfully and unlawfully violate the provisions of such (conflict of interest) laws.”
Van Zant, who is not in custody, could not be reached for comment. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.
The District Attorney’s Office declined to provide details of the case.
Van Zant, 53, has been a controversial figure among San Diego County educators. Long before he faced legal troubles, Van Zant stirred animosity among school districts for years as he brokered deals with charter schools to operate in their districts — often without providing the notice required by law.
Some of the charters that Van Zant ushered through soon hired his consulting firm for support services.
Van Zant worked in the tiny one-campus Dehesa School District, where the school board authorized several charters to operate in other districts, before he was hired to run Mountain Empire schools in 2008.
Under Van Zant’s direction, Mountain Empire authorized its first charter, San Diego Neighborhood Homeschool. Roughly a dozen more followed before he left in 2013.
None of the charters would locate in the district’s backcountry communities. Instead, they would operate in more populated reaches of the county — from Oceanside to San Diego to Chula Vista to National City.
Officials from small and cash-strapped districts approved charters to operate outside of their boundaries in part for financial reasons. The authorizing districts don’t stand to lose students — or the state attendance funds that accompany them — and they receive up to 3 percent of the charter’s revenue in exchange for varying degrees of oversight and often administrative services.
Although the trend didn’t start in Mountain Empire, under Van Zant the district played a key role in San Diego County’s spike in “out-of-district” charters — of which there are more than 80 currently in operation.
Van Zant didn’t just woo charters to earn revenue for Mountain Empire. The steady stream of charters helped bring money to his consulting firm.
A couple of years into his tenure at Mountain Empire, Van Zant and his wife, Ingrid, established EdHive, a consulting firm that offers administrative services and helps charters find districts to green-light their schools.
The company website claims, “We can find an authorizing district for your charter and cut a deal that provides the financial incentive for the district and still save your school money.”
According to profiles of company officials posted on the LinkedIn professional networking website, EdHive has represented at least 27 charters in California. Among them are several charters approved by Mountain Empire during Van Zant’s tenure as superintendent.
Charters that hired EdHive include Endeavour Academy, which was shut down last year after the San Diego Unified School District sued the charter and the Alpine Union School District, which authorized the campus to operate in a Clairemont church.
Most of San Diego County’s out-of-district charters are independent-study programs authorized by small districts in the eastern reaches of the region that have popped up in other districts only to serve their students and take the state attendance funds that accompany them.
The practice has sparked several lawsuits in San Diego County and elsewhere in California.
Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation in 2014 that would have restricted where out-of-district charters can locate because of “retroactive language that could force existing charter schools to change locations.”
In September 2014, Brown said in his veto message he would assign a team to “examine the situation and come back with solutions.” That work is still under way, according to a spokesperson for the governor.
In San Diego County, out-of-district charters continue to pit districts against one another. In his veto message, Brown appeared to acknowledge the problem: “Unfortunately, it appears that some districts and charter schools have gone against the spirit of the law.”
He went on to say that “this has led to litigation and strained relationships among districts and charter schools.”
A Superior Court judge agreed with San Diego Unified last year that the Endeavour charter was a traditional school and not a independent-study hybrid as it was billed, and that organizers failed to notify the district as required under the law. Endeavour’s headquarters were based 150 miles away in Santa Clarita Valley.
Under the state education code, charters that cannot find facilities in their authorizing district may look for a campus in another district as long as they notify that district before the charter is approved.
San Diego Unified has also sent cease-and-desist letters to several out-of-district charters.
Since Kathy Granger was hired as Mountain Empire’s superintendent in December 2013, Mountain Empire has halted its trend of wooing and approving far-flung charters.
She would not discuss Van Zant but did confirm she had been contacted by the District Attorney’s Office about him.
“If anyone were to come to me to open a charter school outside our district boundaries, I would recommend they go to the district that represents the area they want to open a school,” she said.
“We are not opposed to offering education options for our students and we are not against charter schools. Our focus is to provide programs for our students.”
Since taking office in Mountain Empire, Granger has made a point to make personal visits to charter schools in the name of oversight.
Meanwhile, Granger is hopeful that Brown will address the ambiguity in the law when it comes to charters operating outside their authorizing districts.
“I have learned a lot about charter schools since coming here,” she said. “I definitely think there needs to be clarity in the law.”
Ricardo Soto, chief attorney for the California Charter School Association, told The San Diego Union-Tribune in November that school districts are threatened by non-classroom-based charters that he believes operate legally.
Still, he said the law could use some clarity.
Van Zant was arraigned one day after he requested a leave from his three-day-a-week job as superintendent in the two-campus (including a charter) Sausalito district.
Citing personal reasons, Van Zant was put on indefinite paid leave. His salary was $172,000 in 2014.
By Thomas Peele, email@example.com © Copyright 2015, Bay Area News Group
In 2011, Lassen County’s district attorney requested a still-unanswered opinion by the state attorney general on whether California’s Public Records, Brown and Fair Political Practices acts apply to public charter schools.
It came after former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation requiring charter schools to comply with those laws in 2010. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown, who’s anti-transparency and pro-charter, killed another attempt.
Assembly member Mike Gipson, D-Los Angeles, has introduced a similar bill. But Brown remains governor.
Charter schools pull students and money from public school districts where these laws apply, spending tens of millions of dollars across California, sometimes with nebulous — or worse — results.
The state Charter School Association urges members to generally comply with the laws, but it’s also lobbied Attorney General Kamala Harris’ staff to opine that they don’t apply. Harris should finally and forcefully reject those arguments. While the opinions are nonbinding, they’re influential and cited often.
My children attended the Urban Montessori Charter School in East Oakland for a year, an Alameda County Board of Education charter. The kids, now schooling elsewhere, weren’t the only ones obtaining an education there. My year as a charter-school parent provided a vivid lesson in why they require sunlight’s constant disinfectant.
Urban struggled with the Brown and Public Records acts; its board’s inability to fully grasp transparent governance was appalling. This became apparent when it fired the head of the school by not renewing her contract.
The meeting agenda where that occurred was barren of facts, listing only a routine job review, not a critical decision on whether to retain her. I asked questions and two days later met with very nervous board members, former Oakland schools official Hae-Sin Thomas and then board co-chair Randy Weiner. They lacked good answers. They also said they knew who the new administrator would be, even though there’d been no meeting about that yet.
“We hope you were impressed with us,” Weiner said oddly as we parted. I wasn’t.
The replacement, David Castillo, had recently resigned from Urban’s board. Like Thomas, he was an active member of the charter-school movement. They considered no one else. His hiring stunk of cronyism.
Then the board tried to approve Castillo’s contract at a special meeting, an action banned under the Brown Act’s post Bell-scandal reforms. I objected; the vote was aborted.
I checked the board’s Statements of Economic Interest. Most absurdly claimed no income or assets. A few Googles and emails later, board co-chairs Weiner and Tony Emerson filed amended forms identifying jobs and holdings.
These forms aren’t hard. Read instructions. Be honest. Err toward disclosure. This doesn’t qualify one for NASA. Failing to do so raises this question: If they can’t get simple disclosure right, what else is amiss? Well …
A board member, Peter Laub, was vice president of a firm, Ed Tech, that provides financial services to charter schools, Urban included. The conflict of interest was obvious, festering for two years. Laub resigned his seat; the company remained.
The board took macro views of shaky finances. It didn’t vote on bills. Members didn’t know employee salaries, or where money went on a daily basis. Bills and credit card receipts showed fat balances, accruing interest and sometimes late charges.
I’ve spent what seems like a lifetime sifting through government financial records. I’ve never quite seen a mess like Urban’s. Fraternities with unlimited credit would keep better records.
Castillo spent generously on meals. Text messages he and Thomas exchanged didn’t focus as much on education as on paying for booze at a staff party. Thomas rejected using school money for alcohol. Urban barely paid bills, and parents bought basic supplies. Yet its chief argued for party cash. (Full disclosure, I still owe Urban a small amount of money for after-school care.)
But it was my kids’ school. I volunteered for a transparency committee. It accomplished little. In July, I found that the board held a special meeting at 7:30 a.m. at Thomas’ home to renew Castillo’s contract. I forced a public revote. Given the board’s try at the same shady move just months earlier, members clearly cared not to change. I resigned.
Urban released documents under the Public Records Act showing its faults. Texts. Emails. Bills. Receipts. But Harris’ opinion writers would be foolish to think disclosure’s the charter-school norm, and this issue has landed on the dimwit side of Brown’s brain.
The last thing Harris should do is enable public funds to pour into ratholes without accountability.
Thomas Peele is an investigative reporter for this newspaper and teaches classes on public records at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him atTwitter.com/Thomas_peele.
AIMS board chairperson Jean Martinez looks on as attorney Paul Minney addresses the OUSD board at the Sept. 27 board meeting. Photo by Lauren Kawana.
Administrators at the American Indian Model Schools—a set of three Oakland charter schools, two middle schools and one high school—responded late Monday night to a 1,080-page notice of violations given to them by the Oakland Unified School District, OUSD spokesperson Troy Flint said Wednesday.
School officials had been given until November 28 to respond to the district’s allegations regarding improper business contracts, inappropriate credit card usage and lack of school board meeting documentation, but filed their response two days early. If the response does not appropriately answer the questions posed by OUSD school board members about the schools’ finances and organization, the district could decide to revoke the schools’ charters.
The response will be summarized and released to the public after the Oakland school board members read it and remove confidential information, such as student or employee names, Flint said. “It was a long response. It filled up many binders,” Flint said. “The board will have some guidance from our legal team, but they will ultimately decide the fate of AIMS, whether the schools will remain open and in what capacity.”
AIMS operates three charter schools in Oakland: American Indian Public Charter School, American Indian Public High School and American Indian Public Charter School II. The schools reported a total enrollment of almost 500 students during the 2010-2011 school year; in that year, reports to the California Department of Education indicated that almost 70 percent of the students were Asian, 18 percent were Hispanic and 1 percent were American Indian. For the past few years, the schools have had consistently high Academic Performance Index scores, which measure a school’s yearly progress and determine federal funding. During the 2009-2010 school year, American Indian Public Charter School had an API of 988, the highest of all the schools in the state.
The district’s review of the school’s operations began in 2011, when it was given information from a confidential source regarding “improper financial dealings” at the AIMS schools, Flint said. Early this year, the Alameda County Office of Education requested that the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) audit the AIMS schools. The audit was released this June. According to the audit, the study team found evidence of problems, including conflicts of interest in awarding school contracts, inappropriate credit card charges made by school officials, and a lack of documentation for decisions made by the schools’ board members in their meetings.
This September, the district issued a “notice of violations” to the schools based on that audit, as well as public records and previous correspondence between OUSD and AIMS board members. The AIMS administration was given 60 days to provide documentation that the FCMAT auditors said had been missing when they compiled their June report. AIMS administration members were also required to provide a written response to the OUSD, including an explanation or defense against the notice’s accusations, and a plan for remedial measures. This is the written response the district has just received.
At a heavily-attended September 27 school board meeting, when OUSD formally gave AIMS the notice of violations, board members emphasized that the notice did not mean they would close the schools, something that concerned AIMS schools parents in attendance. But if this new AIMS response proves unsatisfactory, officials made clear, OUSD could begin the process of revoking the schools’ charters.
Some of the central allegations in the district’s notice focus on financial transactions involving Ben Chavis, the founder of two of the AIMS schools and the former director of all three. The notice asserts that Chavis and his wife, Marsha Amador, collected almost $4 million from contracts made between the AIMS schools and Chavis’ businesses, including lease agreements, storage agreements and construction contracts—upgrading restroom facilities in 2006 and 2007—for the schools.
According to the notice, though the AIMS school board approved the contracts, there is no indication that they were aware of the money Chavis and his spouse would make from their businesses, including Lumbee Holdings and American Delivery Systems. Since state laws prohibit public officials, officers and employees from engaging in a contract in which they have a financial interest, Chavis’ membership on the AIMS board and the AIMS contracts that financially benefited him appear to be conflicts of interest, according to the FCMAT audit report.
The report also concluded that school funds had been used for personal reasons by Chavis. The study team requested documentation for credit card charges totaling over $72,602.28. According to the report, among the purchases without proper documentation were charges for almost $6,000 on Amazon, over $750 at Home Depot and almost $300 for San Francisco Giants tickets.
The notice of violations and the FCMAT audit report also included complaints about the recording of the school’s board minutes and the lack of details in board meeting reports. For example, the audit report states that “the board approved a maximum of $500,000 to be spent on construction, but there was no discussion of the projects to be completed, timeliness, funding sources or the selection of contractors. Bidding, quotations and requests for proposals were never discussed or considered.”
Board meetings were not held in accordance to schedules, and board minutes and agendas were not available for the FCMAT study team, the OUSD report stated. The district’s report also said Chavis had reported that all board minutes and agendas were stolen from the schools’ business office.
Perhaps more troubling was the OUSD report’s recap of previous notices of concern given to the AIMS board. The first, issued in November 2011, addressed concerns about an apparent lack of teacher credentials and the rapid expansion of the AIMS middle school, American Indian Public Charter School II, beyond 200 students, as first planned in its charter. The second, in January 2012, addressed complaints that OUSD said it had received from anonymous sources about “serious allegations of sexual harassment and verbal or physical abuse of students,” according to the OUSD report. These include a complaint about a staff member kissing a 14-year-old female student, and a sexual harassment complaint filed against Chavis in 2011.
In its January 2012 notice of concern, the OUSD asked the AIMS board to provide all reports of complaints over the past three years. Flint also said the district’s entire report had been sent to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, as required by FCMAT guidelines.
Flint was not able to speak about the content of the AIMS board’s Monday response yet; he said a summary of the response will be available to the public after OUSD members have been able to read it. Ben Chavis, current AIMS director Jason Chu, and the schools’ attorney did not respond to repeated requests for comments.
One of the teachers at an AIMS school said the staff had been working hard to prepare the school’s response. Ryan Young, an eighth grade teacher at AIPCS II, said a few teachers were asked to help create the response. “A lot of the stuff they said we don’t have, we do actually have,” he said. “We’ve been spending several hours every night for the past month and a half basically compiling spreadsheets of documentation.”
Parents of AIMS students have been worried about the schools closing since they were given notices of concern by the OUSD in late 2011, said parent Aster Zeriezghi. “This is one of the few schools where kids in eighth or ninth grade are already thinking about college,” she said. “We don’t want to send our kids to any other school in Oakland.”
Flint said the AIMS response will be discussed at the next school board meeting, which will be held on December 12.
By Nausheen Husain
Posted November 29, 2012 11:00 am
Additional reporting for this story was done by Lauren Kawana.
Read the entire OUSD notice of violations report here. (Click on “12-2557 Notice of Violation – Named Schools.”) The FCMAT audit report is included, on pages 946 to 1,001
OAKLAND — In the 2½ years since American Indian Model Schools leader Ben Chavis left after a state audit showed he directed at least $3.8 million from the school to companies he owned, the school has paid him an additional $8.6 million to use his buildings.
Now, new leaders at the high-performing charter school are attempting to get out from under Chavis’ shadow by moving out of two classroom buildings and an office he rents to the school on 35th Avenue for $46,000 a month and by orchestrating the removal of three board members.
But the impending changes have caused turmoil at the school, including student walkouts over school board politics, a restraining order against a former board member, police intervention at a school board meeting, and teacher and staff turnover.
Maya Woods-Cadiz, new superintendent of the American Indian Public Charter Schools, stands in a hallway of the Middle School building at the East Oakland campus in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 14, 2015. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
“We are trying to separate the school from Chavis,” school board President Steven Leung said. “The school district would like to see us not be associated with him. I think we’re in good hands.”
Founded in 1996 and currently serving about 1,000 students, the American Indian Model Schools have established a strong record of academic success with a strict, test-oriented approach but have struggled in recent years with allegations of mismanagement and fraud.
Last year, the school paid Chavis $7.5 million to buy a building that houses a K-8 campus on 12th Street in downtown Oakland. Leung said the school had no choice but to buy because it didn’t have anywhere else to go at the time.
An investigation and finding by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights that the 35th Avenue campus does not meet disability access requirements, coupled with a stalemate over who would make repairs, prompted plans to move from that facility.
New Superintendent Maya Woods-Cadiz, a former Oakland school district principal and administrator, and Leung hope that by moving 300 high school students to the 12th Street building and by moving 150 middle school students to Oakland’s Bella Vista Elementary school for rent of just $38,000 a year, they can save money and fix their disability access problem without having to continue hounding Chavis to make repairs.
“Mr. Chavis has known about the conditions at that school for quite some time, but he doesn’t want to fix it,” Leung said. “The Office for Civil Rights has asked us to either fix it or move. We’ve sent multiple notices to Mr. Chavis.”
But Chavis, who is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the IRS and FBI relating to his financial dealings with the school, called Leung’s comments about his refusal to make repairs at the school a “damn lie” and referred to Woods-Cadiz as a “(expletive) loser.”
Chavis, who lives in North Carolina, said he never received any notice from the school’s lawyers asking him to make disability access repairs. He also acknowledged the rent at the 35th Avenue campus is high.
“I did charge them high rent, but when I was there I gave it all back so I could send the illegals to college,” Chavis said. “I did work the system, but then I took my salary and donated it back to the school. If I’m a crook, we need more crooks, it sounds like to me.”
The former AIMS leader said moving the 35th Avenue high school students to the school’s 12th Street building and putting the middle school students at Bella Vista is “a stupid idea” because they will lose a gymnasium in his building and there won’t be enough room for the high school students at the 12th Street building.
Leung and Woods said moving out of the campus will help the school move on from Chavis.
There is “no more Mr. Chavis, and we have a really strong board now,” Woods-Cadiz said.
The school originally was primarily oriented toward American Indians. Chavis was hired in 2001, and soon after the student demographic started to change to a broader community.
For the next 10 years, the school’s academic performance soared and it attracted more mostly low-income students of other ethnicities, but by 2012, things started to go wrong. An investigation by the state Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team reported finding evidence of fraud, misappropriation of funds and conflicts of interest. The investigation found that from 2007 to 2011, Chavis had directed $3.8 million from the school to companies he owned for contracts not approved by the school board.
In 2013, the Oakland Unified School District yanked the school’s charter and Chavis stepped down. After Chavis left, the school fought back in court and won reinstatement of its charter last year.
Under Woods-Cadiz, the charter school has seen many changes, including the planned move of the 35th Avenue campus, the removal of one school board member, the resignation of two others and the firing of a beloved physical education teacher — all of which has led to increased tensions at the school. Students have walked out of classes four times since March 24, when the school board ousted one of its members, Nedir Bey. Bey became a board member in 2012 after Chavis left the school, Chavis said.
Bey, who does not have any children at the school, came on campus April 20 and started yelling at staff, according to legal documents related to a restraining order against him. He returned on April 21 to a school board meeting and incited the crowd against Woods-Cadiz and board members in a way that “created the potential of physical harm and actual emotional harm,” an initial petition for the restraining order said.
“We had to call the police because the meeting got very disruptive and unsafe,” Woods-Cadiz said.
On advice of the school’s lawyer, she declined to talk about the events leading to the restraining order. The school’s attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment.
The restraining order protects Woods-Cadiz and 11 administrators and school board members from Bey. He is ordered not to harass, make violent threats, stalk, contact, come on campus or have any personal contact with those listed on the order.
“The reason we got the restraining order is for Ms. Woods-Cadiz’s safety and her family’s safety,” Leung said. “He also got involved with the operation of the school, meaning he was trying to go to the office and wanting to see files and not going through proper channels. There were other incidents where staff did not feel comfortable with him.”
The school also has hired a private security firm to make sure Bey does not come on campus.
Bey’s attorney, Chris Dobbins, a former Oakland Unified School Board member, said Bey denies the allegations in the restraining order. A hearing over the allegations to make the order permanent, throw it out or modify it could come in a couple of months, Dobbins said.
“There were no threats or harassment,” Dobbins said. “They also listed all the board members as being protected and there is no verification that Mr. Bey made any threats to them.”
Bey, a former associate of Your Black Muslim Bakery, was charged in 1994 with abducting and torturing a man who ran afoul of the bakery. He pleaded no contest to felony false imprisonment and served a home detention sentence. In 1996, Bey launched a failed health care company with more than $1.5 million of city money that he never repaid.
Recent interviews with teachers and staff at the 35th Avenue campus reveal resentment and distrust over Woods-Cadiz’s changes and support for Bey. Woods-Cadiz blames Bey for the student walkouts.
Teacher Daniel Eng, who has worked at the school for nine years, is quitting at the end of the year. This year, he said, has been the worst, with the planned move of the campus, the changes on the board and the student walkouts.
“Leaving without a job to go to, this speaks volumes for me if I lasted through all the other stuff the last few years,” Eng said.
First-year teacher Cris Bautista, who teaches eighth-grade math, science, English and history at the school, replaced another teacher who quit in November, shortly after Woods-Cadiz arrived.
“It’s been hard to teach in this atmosphere, with the student walkouts and the administrative turnover,” Bautista said. “There are a lot of problems with the board and the administration, and it trickles down and it’s harmful to the students. Every day something crazy happens.”
By Doug Oakley firstname.lastname@example.org