Tag Archives: Clayton Valley Charter High School

Is CVCHS Funding David Linzey’s New Clayton Valley Charter Tech Academy?

cv-tech-petition Clayton Valley Tech – Charter Petition

cv-tech-appendix Clayton Valley Tech – Charter Petition Appendix

Wondering why CV sits on an $11 million surplus but continues to ask parents to donate for school supplies, tech supports, sports etc?

Because the CV Board has pledged to use its money (amount “TBD”) to help David Linzey and his new charter corporation open a new school (“Clayton Valley Charter Tech Academy”) located at the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church  on Kirker Pass Rd.

When did the CV Board vote to fund a new charter?  And why doesn’t the CV Board care that its Executive Director is spending his time planning new charters instead of focusing on fixing the problems at CV?  Maybe because CV Board members Richard Assadoorian and Ted Meriam are part of the advisory council to the new charter?  And CV Board members Tom Sparks and Sarah Lovick have agreed to teach at the new school?

The CVC Tech Academy charter petition is scheduled to be presented to the Contra Costa County Board of Education on Wednesday, October 19th.

http://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/supe/board.html#meetings

 

 

 

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Contra Costa County Board of Education to add Clayton Valley Charter HS to their agenda at their next meeting

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The leadership at CVCHS has caused many highly qualified teachers to leave. The following chart* depicts the extent of teacher turnover since the school went charter, and was presented at the Contra Costa County Board of Education (CCCBOE) on Wednesday night (9/21/16).  In addition to this presentation, several students also expressed how they have been negatively impacted. The CCCBOE plans to add Clayton Valley to their agenda next month.

*This only includes teachers, not support staff and administrators who have also experienced high turnover.

faculty-retention-list-no-comments

 

 

CVCHS Administration and Board have no interest in collaborating with concerned students or community members.

https://www.suggestionox.com/r/cvchs

Contrary to their claims, the CV administration and Board really have no interest in collaborating with concerned students or community members. At the Board meeting ex-Board member Mike Fine set up, at his own expense, an anonymous suggestion website to help facilitate better communication between the school and the community. Less than 24 hours later, Mike Fine posted this:

Clayton Valley Charter High School Anonymous Suggestion Box

***** IMPORTANT NOTE: At 7:58am Thursday, September 15, 2016, after only five suggestions had been submitted via this site (four of which were serious, one of which was not), I received the following email from a support rep at Suggestion Ox: “We had a request from some folks at Clayton Valley Charter School not to receive emails via Suggestion Ox. To honor their request, we’ve removed those email addresses from the Additional Recipients section for your box.” Because of this, submissions will no longer go directly to the Executive Director, Principal, and Governing Board. Frankly, I find it appalling that someone at the school or on the Board actively decided to REJECT hearing from administrators, teachers, students and others. At this point, I personally will forward suggestions to these people and others as I see fit. *****

9/14/16 CVCHS Governing Board Meeting Narrative

Clayton Valley Charter High School
September 14, 2016
Governing Board Meeting Narrative

The CVCHS board meeting started shortly after 6:00pm. The audience appeared to be made up of 150+ unhappy students, teachers, parents, and community members. There also appeared to be several happy Executive Director Linzey supporters in the front row. The meeting began with Chairperson Ted Meriam giving the audience instructions on proper behavior at a board meeting. He then called on members of the audience who had filled out a speaking card to come up and speak for their exact allotted speaking time of either 2 or 3 minutes. There were over a dozen speakers with all but one expressing their concerns about the executive director, the school board, the flight of teachers and staff, and the unexplained budget.

While memorializing the teachers that had touched their lives so profoundly, teachers who had each in turn fled the charter, the emotionally charged students begged the board members to listen to them. It appeared as though the entire leadership class of the school was in attendance. One after another they went to the speaking podium and poured out their feelings of frustration at the disappearance of their teachers, their counselors, and the staff that supported and mentored them. Some of those students were not only saddened by loss, but were also angry that nothing was being done to stop the landslide of disappearing staff. Another teacher had resigned that week, following dozens before her. Each student was loudly cheered by the audience for their heartfelt speeches, and as the room became more on edge, one very brave student stood up and with an air of confidence and resolve called on the board to wake up and solve the problem. Over and over again she pointed out that the problems at the school lead back to the executive director. She then looked at Executive Director Dave Linzey and asked him to resign. Of course the room erupted in cheers. The audience was with her.

One notable speaker pointed out the strange shifting of money in the budget from last year and the 11 million dollar surplus that could be used for students, but it appeared that it was being stockpiled for some unknown future use. Another speaker also pointed to the lack of detail in the budget and stated that she has tried numerous times to request explanations from the administration. This person is a respected, hard working elected board member of the Athletic Booster Board and was recently asked to resign by the athletic director, noting her unwelcome inquiries and negative comments about the administration. He told her if she didn’t resign the athletic booster club would be effectively shut down and kept from operating on campus.

After the students finished their impassioned speeches, but before any agenda “business” began, the executive director showed how much he cared by condescendingly giving the students “permission” to leave the meeting to go do their homework. The students looked around incredulously and stayed in their seats.

The board chair then gave a lengthy speech about how the Board has no say in, and cannot address personnel issues. He left out, however, the fact the Board does in fact have one personnel responsibility—to oversee, hire, and fire the Executive Director.

The board continued and as usual there were no comments about anything, no questions to the executive director, no promise to look into the issues, no questioning of the budget that no one in the room appeared to have a copy of. The board gave the appearance of puppets on a string bobbing their heads yes to everything the executive director proposed. There was no discussion of any item and no board business conducted at any time. A seemingly endless list of new hires was announced, some very obviously causing a controversy afterwards. Not one of the new staff, not even the new administrators were at the meeting to be introduced. Mr. Linzey stated that he would be visiting the leadership class the next day. The meeting was adjourned by 7:30pm.

Many people milled around talking after the meeting was over. A board member came down and chastised the students for their behavior. Another staff member from the school did the same. The parents also seemed incredulous that not even a single word was uttered by board members that gave them any indication that they recognized the problem and they would look into it. Parents wondered what they could do next. What can they do? This is a charter run by one person with no apparent oversight by anyone. One group already tried and where are they now? Retaliation is an often repeated word. Speaking up can have life time consequences. Good luck to the amazing students who spoke at the meeting and to all the students and parents who came to support them. Hopefully they will find the answer.

 

Editorial on the teacher turnover at Clayton Valley Charter

 

There have been various reasons why teachers have left CV. But regardless, the amount of turnover that CV is seeing is absolutely abnormal, especially in the midst of a teacher shortage in California. Overall, many teachers simply disagree with the direction the school is taking. Mr Linzey cares more about building an empire and creating an image, and the governing board rubber stamps whatever he wants.

Professional development and collaboration has become a bumbling mess, and there is little effective communication amongst the staff as a result. The division of two years ago is still there, it is just quieter now. Academic programs seem to take a back seat to certain athletic programs. Achieve 3000 is touted as a panacea for literacy problems when really it is a waste of time that is forced on teachers and students and takes time away from meaningful learning and teaching. Teachers are scolded and punished for complaining or speaking out. Student discipline is not effectively handled and there is little to no avenue for teachers to have any input. The list goes on, but in the end, CV still has a lot of work to do- more than ever- if it still wants to go from “good to great”.

The public needs to be educated about the fact that teachers are professionals with extensive training, but their contributions are not valued at CV, or only valued if they’ve sworn allegiance to Mr. Linzey, and often the direction he wants to go is not student-centered. However, pointing that out will get one labeled a “traitor” and discredited as “just another disgruntled teacher.” Such a toxic place to be if one truly believes in education and working for young people. It is insulting to advocate for students, only to be dismissed and discredited as the opposite.

~Anonymous CVCHS Teacher

 

Stakeholders for Transparency posted the list of staff that have left this (2015-2016) school year so far:

 

Miguel Romo – Student Services Administrator

Greg Fister – Dean of Students (Discipline & Character)

Jackie Valdez – Counselor

Katelyn James – Psychologist/Special Education

Kirsten Owen – Office Manager

Joey Scott – Band/Orchestra Instructor

Kipp Penovich – Science/Physics Teacher

Jennifer Garcia –Teacher

Cristina Valle – Teacher, Special Education Transition Specialist

Sabine Becker – Teacher

Suzanne Chenault- Teacher

Clarice Hammett – French Teacher

Lauren Lewis –Resource Teacher

Maurice Maier – Teacher

Renee Tresse – Teacher

Paul Tucker – Teacher

Jillian Winkler – Teacher, Yearbook Leadership

Melissa Chesnut – Special Education Assistant

Kathleent Prato – Special Education Assistant

Jhullli Rogers – Special Education Assistant

Paula Dillon – Teacher

A Tale of Two Clayton Valley High Schools. What a difference a charter school makes!

A Tale of Two Charter Schools - Clayton Valley Charter High School -Then and NowA Tale of Two Charter Schools – Clayton Valley Charter High School -Then and Now

Initiative That Would Shut Down Charter Schools In California Cleared To Gather Signatures

http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2016/02/09/initiative-that-would-shut-down-charter-schools-in-california-cleared-to-gather-signatures/

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.

Neil McChesney Bills CVCHS For Consulting Work

Neil McChesney Resignation Letter 3-2-15

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).

 

The lesson from a California’s charter school: Strict transparency needed

http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_29009787/thomas-peele-watchdog-column-lesson-from-californias-charter

By Thomas Peele, tpeele@bayareanewsgroup.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.

American Indian Model Schools file response to allegations of financial, organizational misconduct

Oakland North Logo

Oakland North Article Picture

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

https://oaklandnorth.net/2012/11/29/american-indian-model-schools-file-response-to-allegations-of-financial-organizational-misconduct/