Charter Renewal FAQs from the APT
Tue, Sep 17 10:19pm

Dear OSA Community,

Below are APT gathered answers to FAQs on charter renewal added to information we shared verbally at the last APT meeting.  In addition, we’ve attached the PowerPoint used at the meeting. We understand there are questions and uncertainty about the charter renewal process.  We also know there aren’t a lot of answers as the school navigates the legal and political process. Below is our best attempt to shed light on the process to date.  

It is the priority of the APT to support the school in more closely mirroring the demographics of Oakland thereby meeting its commitment to diversity and inclusion as a testament to living our values, but also to strengthen our charter application. OSA’s current student body disproportionately lacks enrollment of English Language Learners (ELL), students with disabilities, and socio-economically disadvantaged students.  It is the opinion of the APT that OSA should strive to remove as many obstacles, and create as many opportunities as possible, to achieve equitable enrollment outcomes. 

FAQs:

What is the process/timeline for charter renewal?

The OSA Board meets on September 25th to vote on the proposed charter application.

Proposal is made to the Board October 10th.

In November, parents can come to a hearing and advocate for the renewal application.

In December OUSD can approve, deny, or possibly approve with conditions/modifications.

If not approved, or approved with untenable conditions, can we appeal to the County?

Yes, we can appeal to the County.  We do not know yet if the County will be amenable to allowing auditions. This is both a legal question and a political one, with no clear answers yet.  The APT board and the school is working to answer these legal and political questions by reaching out to the county and getting legal opinions.

What happens if we appeal to the County and the County denies our appeal?

There are different opinions about this.  It is unclear, but the new Statewide legislation will limit the ability of charters to appeal to the State Board of Education. 

Are there are other considerations with a County charter renewal?

OSA would lose its Measure N funds for college and career readiness for Oakland students for OUSD schools (including charter schools).

Why are they now saying a district school can have auditions but a charter school can’t?

OUSD feels that OSA’s auditions for entry into the lottery are not allowable for a charter school under current law.  The reason given is that OSA is an independent school. If a student can’t attend OSA, there isn’t another school like OSA for a student to go to. For example, in the OUSD, if a student can’t get into Oakland Tech for high school (for whatever reason) they could still enroll at Skyline High School or Oakland High School, etc.  

What if we got rid of auditions for enrollment?

We would probably get our charter renewed with little effort.

There is also likely a hybrid option.  No audition for entry into the school, but the school can still have internal auditions for which art emphasis, which choir, which combo, etc.  Some have suggested a general arts program be available for students who would prefer not to specialize. There would be no requirement that a student with poor pitch has to be accepted into the vocal department, only into the school.

How would the OUSD option work?

In general, very little is known about it, because the idea is to negotiate for the next two years. We would get our charter renewed for two years while we meet with and negotiate with OUSD over becoming an autonomous school within the District.  If at the end of the two years, we couldn’t find common ground, we’d be back to where we are today – in a dispute with OUSD over our charter.

Talk more about autonomous district schools and the movement to create them.

The autonomous school movement is very new, therefore there are no autonomous schools yet in Oakland.  Community organizations doing work for a more equitable education system have worked to create autonomous schools for years leading to several school districts around the U.S. implementing “independent schools,” “autonomous schools,” or “innovative schools” where traditional district schools are given flexibility and independence in their curriculum, budget, schedule and calendar, staffing, professional development, and district policies in order to bring innovation and best practices into Education.  As a result of 2018 district policy calling on the superintendent to develop charter-like autonomies for district schools, a group of OUSD principals, parents, and teachers formed a study-group and have taken learning trips to Denver and Massachusetts to understand the elements of the most successful models.

Would out-of-district students be removed if OSA became a part of OUSD?

The OUSD charter office has indicated that current students and their siblings would be grandfathered in.

Would non-credentialed arts teachers be fired?

Under the pending new law, even charter school teachers will have to be credentialed. Our current understanding is that CTE counts.

Can we sue?

We have tried to get grants from the charter school advocacy organization world, but they are not funding this kind of unique situation. The OSA Board would have to determine if this was affordable and/or winnable.