EGUSD Staff Report Raises Serious Financial Concerns Over Proposed Elk Grove Charter School

February 4, 2016 | When the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation asked for a 30-day extension of their petition Tuesday night at the...

February 4, 2016 |

When the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation asked for a 30-day extension of their petition Tuesday night at the Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD) meeting, they may have had an idea things would not be going their way.

Tri-Valley Learning, which is seeking to open the K-8 Golden State Charter School with funding from the EGUSD, would have heard a staff report denying their petition. Tri-Valley Learning currently operates schools in four California districts.

The EGUSD staff report found three significant deficiencies in denying the petition. Those were listed as follows:
  • A. Petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the petition;
  • B. The charter school presents an unsound educational program for the pupils to be enrolled in the charter school; and
  • C. The Petition does not contain reasonably comprehensive description of the essential elements of a charter school petition.
The report notes that part of their determination came from a Public Records Act request to the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) and the three other districts Tri-Valley Learning operates seeking all correspondence. 

The most damaging finding in the report involves Tri-Valley Learning's financial condition and reporting. Saying they would approach Tri-Valley Learning with caution, EGUSD staff said "The financial status of the corporation does not indicate that it can implement the proposed charter school in Elk Grove. The primary reasons for this are a) the corporation’s inability to provide June 30, 2015, audited financial statements, b) excessive debt service and c) excessive management costs."  

The LVJUSD also issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Tri-Valley Learning on four items. They include charging students from abroad administrative fees above what is allowed under Federal Law, failure to reimburse Pas Positas College, poor outreach efforts to recruit a diverse student population, and failure to meet two audit deadlines. 

With regards to diversity recruiting, the reported noted in its NOV the LVJUSD asked why Tri-Valley "is able to dedicate staff to travel to China to recruit foreign students, but cannot effectively recruit a local student body that reflect community demographics."     

Former Tri-Vally Learning board member Dick Corso told Elk Grove News in an email that while he is pleased with the education his son is receiving from the charter school in Livermore, he recently resigned from the board over what he characterized as ethical issues. Some of the concerns Corso raised were included in the EGUSD report, most notably excessive charges on exchange students, no compliance to LVUJSD oversight, and failure to repay Las Positas College. 

Corso also noted a nasty letter and call campaign orchestrated by Tri-Valley toward the City of Livermore after they would not grant a certificate of occupancy because a required parking lot was not completed for a new Tri-Valley school. According to a report in Tuesday's Contra Costa Times, Tri-Valley Learning's CEO John Zukoski admitted he misled parents as to why the certificate was not granted blaming it on the city.

"He admits that he lied to the parents, the students and his fellow administrators and in doing so he was willing to put the lives of the students at risk," Livermore Mayor John Marchand told the Contra Costa Times. "If I was a charter school parent, that would be unforgivable."

EGN contacted Tri-Valley Learning via email yesterday and as of posting time, no response has been received. If Tri-Valley Learning resubmits their petition, it will not be eligible until the 2017-18 school year per EGUSD's administrative regulations. 

Interestingly, the EGUSD report also noted that Tri-Valley vaguely described the site of the proposed Golden State Charter School as being in "West Elk Grove." In the actual proposal, the site was in the Sacramento Unified School District's boundaries.

The report says "California's Charter Schools Act has clear guidance that a classroom based charter school program, like that proposed for GSCS, must house its students within the boundaries of the school district that charters it, unless certain exceptions exist and notice is provided to the school district where the facility will be housed. (Education Code sections 47605, subd. (a)(1) and 47605.1 (d).) In this case, those exceptions do not exist. Petitioners, therefore, propose facilities that are in violation of the Charter Schools Act."

Elk Grove Unified School District Board President Bobbie Singh-Allen provided a commentary on her observations of Tri-Valley Learning's petition in a piece posted below.

Also, in a separate posting, the entire EGUSD staff report can be viewed.    

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Warren Buffett said...

I was a little confused by Singh-Allen's editorial--you were impressed by your stroll through the Livermore school and felt that the EGUSD staff report lacked evidence of its claims? If I have interpreted this correctly, how can a superficial walk-thru on a day off substitute for a forensic accounting analysis backed by actual documentaton?

By pulling the application at the last minute after the staff recommendation was revealed, doesn't this allow Mayor Davis and his charter cohorts to divide and conquer the school board members one at a time until the minimum votes are in place for approval?

This whole charter school scam is about liberal elite Democrats who can't afford private schools for their kids, wanting to create a hybrid private school on the school district's (and taxpayer's) dime. If there was ever a time for the taxpayer's and teacher's union to take a stand, that time is now.

Eastside Betty said...

Finally, a governing body in this community with some foresight, integrity and a lack of special interest benefactors that need to be stroked.

Maybe the SD board can run for city council seats up for reelection.
Pay attention council members, this is the way YOU are supposed to handle OUR business at city hall.

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