Grand jury: lack of oversight at Prosser Creek Charter School
The Nevada County Grand Jury released a report this week recommending Tahoe Truckee Unified School District take a more proactive role in its oversight of future charter schools.
The report, conducted by a panel of 19 volunteer jurors, comes nine months after the school board shut down Prosser Creek Charter School on grounds of financial mismanagement.
The five-page report concludes that excessive program growth was partially to blame for Prosser Creek Charter School’s debt, which amounted to approximately $3.4 million. In less than four years, Prosser Creek’s enrollment increased 10-fold, from 125 students to 1,268 students, according to the report.
Also, contrary to Prosser Creek’s charter, which mandated there be a school district representative on the Prosser Creek school advisory council, the jurors determined TTUSD did not have a representative on the council beginning fall 2001.
“Had the TTUSD continued a presence on the PCCS Advisory Council, one possible means of communication between the TTUSD and PCCS would have been available,” says the report. “While this may have not prevented the revocation of the charter, TTUSD per the charter, had an obligation to participate in Advisory Council meetings.”
In the grand jury’s recommendations, it said the school district should assume responsibility for ensuring that former Prosser Creek students residing in Nevada County are meeting education laws.
The school board is required to respond to the report by Aug. 19. School district Superintendent Dennis Williams said although the school district is not required to follow the recommendations made by the report, he and the board will give the suggestions due consideration.
The jurors suggested Tahoe Truckee Unified develop a board policy that defines its relationship to any future charter school. The grand jury also recommended the school district impart the following requirements on any future charter school:
– Have a detailed financial accountability agreement.
– Have the same fiscal reporting system as the school district and county office of education.
– Identify geographic attendance areas and maximum growth.
– Establish format, frequency and scope of district oversight activities.
– Identify if either the school district or charter school is responsible for student services if the charter school closes.
In the investigation, the grand jury interviewed the superintendent of schools in Placer and Nevada counties, former and current administrators at the school district, a district trustee, a former administrator and a former advisory council member from Prosser Creek.
The investigators also looked at various documents and correspondence between school district and charter school administrators.
On the Net
For this and other Nevada County Grand Jury reports, go to http://www.civilgrandjury.com.
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