Antioch’s Dozier-Libbey Medical High School teachers vote to convert to a charter school

On Monday, February 24, 2014, in an effort to remain true to the original mission of an innovative California pathway high school whose vision is “Every student valued, every student challenged, every student prepared to succeed in a changing world,” a petition to convert to an independent public charter high school was filed with the Antioch Unified School District on behalf of the students, faculty, and staff of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School.  This petition was signed by 88% of the tenured teachers at the site, well above the required 50% needed to file, and is expected to be reviewed by district leadership over the next 30 days.

Reasons cited for the conversion included, among others, diverging philosophies between the district and site staffs for program implementation at this dynamic health career–themed school. While faculty and staff at this close-knit school serving just over 600 students regret having to part ways with their school district, most are very optimistic about what the future holds for them and the students as a California conversion charter school. None of the teachers were opposed to the charter conversion. Teachers are looking forward to carrying out the original vision of the school that has been clouded by the district’s cumbersome management and decision-making process. The school will continue to offer a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, with a health care career emphasis, that exceeds traditional academic instructions with a focus on mastery learning and in-class supports for struggling students.

The school will remain a public school with the same admission and enrollment policies that existed under the district.  All students currently enrolled at DLMHS will be guaranteed admission to the charter once converted. As evidenced by the strong show of support for the petition by permanent certificated staff, almost all of the faculty is expected to stay on. Reasons for not electing to stay are largely due to personal and professional considerations. Without exception, DLMHS teachers are in support of the charter conversion.

Dozier-Libbey Medical High School opened its doors to 9th graders in 2008 and subsequently added a grade level each year until full enrollment in 2012.  Founded in response to overcrowding in Antioch Unified School District’s two comprehensive high schools, the Superintendent at that time saw an opportunity to open a different kind of school. He was interested in building a high school that had a career focus. He convened community leaders and business people to investigate the labor force needs and they discovered that health care would have the highest employment possibility and that the land adjacent to the space where the new school would be built was going to have a medical facility built on it at the same time. The district made the decision to open a new small school with a healthcare focus. An advisory committee comprised of teachers, district representatives, community members, school founders, and a CEO of the local hospital was formed to oversee the school’s development.

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