State board of education to review charter law | SierraSun.com

State board of education to review charter law

Staff reports

Local concerns between Prosser Creek Charter School and the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District will have statewide implications.

After months of correspondence among the district, Prosser Creek, Financial Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) and the Placer County and California departments of education, the state Board of Education took action toward reviewing charter school law, starting at a meeting Tuesday.

“I think it’s very important that [the board of education is] taking on the responsibility that the staff and outgoing state superintendent, Delaine Eastin, recommended,” said district superintendent Pat Gemma.

The board’s Advisory Commission on Charter Schools planned on developing and adopting regulations to implement various provisions of the Charter Schools Act of 1992 at the meeting.

The act has undergone many changes since its creation in 1992, some soon after the law was created. The regulations were created to give charter schools some leeway to not have to operate under all of the rules for public schools – the gap has created a vagueness that leaves the law up for interpretation.

When the FCMAT came out with its report in late October 2002, the auditors questioned Prosser Creek’s financial viability, average daily attendance, the credentials of its teachers and a donation made by the school’s founder Gail Alderson.

FCMAT’s recommendations and interpretations of law raised the eyebrows of school officials statewide, and they found themselves in disagreement on several occasions.

A Prosser Creek representative said there are two ways the law has been interpreted: FCMAT’s way and the department of education’s way.

However, Gemma said he believes the review gives more weight to FCMAT than others would believe.

“In my view [the department of education is] validating the important work of FCMAT and making sure charter schools are held accountable for proper expenditures,” he said.

Prosser Creek’s executive director, Jayna Gaskell, was unavailable for comment at press time.