Antioch School Board votes to accept Rocketship’s responses to notices of violation

Rocketship students cheer during the Antioch School Board meeting on Wed., May 22, 2019. Screenshot of televised meeting on YouTube.

Includes probationary period through next school year

By Allen Payton

At the Antioch School Board meeting on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 the trustees unanimously approved a resolution to conditionally accept Rocketship Delta Prep Charter School’s responses to the notices of violation over failure to provide proper financial reports and in a timely manner. Antioch USD-Resolution 2018-19-35 Conditionally Accept Responses to Notices of Violation

“It would bring to a close a process that started in February,” said the district’s attorney. “Although the responses provide explanations…they do acknowledge that violations occurred. It is our …which would keep the charter school open and treat the remainder of this school year and the 2019-2020 school year as a probation period, and require the charter school to comply with conditions in the resolution.”

Those conditions include that they “timely submit to the board all financial reports.”

According to the staff report, “On February 27, 2019, the Board of Education approved…a Notice of Violation for numerous violations including missing audit timelines required by the State Controller’s Office, and submitting an untimely audit containing findings that the Rocketship organization failed to meet generally accepted accounting principles, engaged in fiscal mismanagement, and inappropriately placed non-credentialed teachers in classrooms. Additionally, the Notice of Violation outlined concerns regarding AUSD’s inability to verify that teachers in RDP classrooms are appropriately credentialed.

On April 10, 2019, the Board approved Resolution 2018-19-26, which authorized the District to issue the Charter School a Second Notice of Violation for submitting a second interim budget report on March 15, 2019 that indicated the school would be insolvent and unable to meet its financial obligations for the next three years.

Rocketship responded timely to the Notices of Violation on April 1, 2019 and May 13, 2019 respectively. The responses acknowledge that several violations did in fact occur. However, the responses and supporting documentation also offer explanations as to how the violations have or will be remedied.  To ensure RDP follows through with their remedial plans and corrects their actions, the Administration recommends that the Board’s Acceptance of the Charter School’s responses to each Notice of Violation be conditioned on the Charter School’s compliance with specific requirements during a period of probation. These requirements include, but are not limited to, AUSD’s increased access and oversight of Special Education and English Learner programs, and amending the MOU requiring RDP to reimburse the District for the actual costs of staff time and resources to provide said oversight.”

Following public comments from AUSD teachers, parents of Rocketship students and some of the students, repeating many of the comments from both sides during previous meetings, the board took up the issue.

“I’ve said this all along, it’s an administrative issue and it sounds like it’s been worked out,” said Trustee Diane Gibson Gray. “I didn’t hear anything from Rocketship that they disagreed with the resolution. The resolution has been worked out between the two groups and I’m prepared to vote for the resolution.”

“I just wanted to take a moment to thank Stephanie Anello, the cabinet and staff, as well as the community and Rocketship for working so tirelessly on this topic,” said Trustee Ellie Householder. “I’m very comfortable with this outcome and I’m very hopeful for the future in just kind of building more collaborations. This tension has opened up a lot in our community for discussion, really difficult discussions, often times. I think we’re kind of crossing a bridge and we’re getting to a place where things are going to be a lot more collaborative, going forward.”

Trustee Mary Rocha was next to share her thoughts.

“I appreciate, and I’ve said it before, your parents are excellent. We weren’t here to go against what you’re doing with your children and your program. It’s the idea that we’re responsible and we had to follow through,” she said. “But, I also feel a little bit uncomfortable…having the thought that you talked about work together and collaboration…yet, after you talked with the superintendent, you went straight to the city council and denounced us as not working with you and that we didn’t want to be with you, at all. I don’t think that’s fair.”

“If we’re going to go forward, we can’t go against each other, and we can’t divide the city, with the school on one side and the city on the other. We need to work together for our children, not for us and our egos.”

“I toured the school prior to the last board meeting,” said Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White. “To have this choice aside from the district is a good thing. Because his particular school is addressing kids of color and they are reading at a certain grade level that’s quite impressive, based on what we’re hearing, here. What I observed is a brand new school that’s bringing something great to the city. I see parents in the classroom volunteering. That’s not happening in the public school sector, here. I am very impressed with Rocketship. So, I am in agreement with the resolution.”

“You know the reality is, this has never been about program at your school,” Board President Gary Hack stated. “This is about notices of violation of things you needed to do that you didn’t do in a timely manner. That’s your corporate leadership in many ways.”

The board voted 5-0 to approve the main resolution, and four supporting resolutions, ending the controversy that’s plagued both the Rocketship school in Antioch and the school board meetings over the past several months.

the attachments to this post:

Antioch USD-Resolution 2018-19-35 Conditionally Accept Responses to Notices of Violation
Antioch USD-Resolution 2018-19-35 Conditionally Accept Responses to Notices of Violation

Rocketship students cheer at AUSD Board mtg

No Comments so far.

Leave a Reply