School district answers civil grand jurors
August 23, 2004
The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District responded last week to a Nevada County Civil Grand Jury report that said the school district should have taken a more proactive role in the oversight of Prosser Creek and future charter schools.The report, conducted by a panel of 19 volunteer jurors and released in May, said the demise of Prosser Creek was due, in part, to excessive program growth at the charter school and a lack of a school district representative on Prosser Creek’s advisory council since fall 2001.The May report concludes the school district should learn from its mistakes with Prosser Creek and implement a stronger charter school policy.In his response to the grand jury, school district Superintendent Dennis Williams agreed with most of the panel’s discoveries, except the jury’s finding that the school district did not have board policy regarding charter school oversight.According to Williams, the district had a board policy for charter schools since August 1998. On March 3 – after the grand jury’s investigation and before the release of its report – the school board adopted a stronger set of administrative regulations for future charter school applicants.”We took the action we took not based on the grand jury – it was based on our experience,” Williams said.In August 2003, the school board revoked Prosser Creek’s charter just before the school began its sixth year. District officials cited fiscal mismanagement, the charter school’s $3.4 million debt, and failure to agree on a memorandum of understanding with the district as reasons for revocation.Response to panel’s recommendationsThe following are the three recommendations from the Nevada County Civil Grand Jury’s report on Prosser Creek Charter School and the responses of the school district:Grand jury recommendation: The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District should keep tabs on the performance of former Prosser Creek students living in Nevada County.School district response: The district did not receive a list of students who attended Prosser Creek and, therefore, can’t determine where they are attending school.Grand jury: The school district should have a board policy that defines the relationship between the district and a new charter school.School district: The recommendation was implemented when the school board adopted administrative regulations on March 3 to address new charter school oversight.Grand jury: The school district should require future charter schools to enter a financial accountability agreement, use a fiscal reporting system like the one used by the county office of education, identify a geographical area in which students will be served, how many students will be served and create a contingency plan should a new charter school cease to operate.School district: The district implemented the recommendation in its adopted administrative regulations.