OC Charter Schools Dinged for Cherry-Picking Enrollment in Statewide Report

In a report issued yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) teamed with Public Advocates to reveal how some of California's 1,200 charter schools curtail enrollment to their favor despite the law. In “Unequal Access” researchers found that more than 20 percent of such schools filter out potential students with a slew of obstacles including academic performance, pre-enrollment essays, interviews, parental volunteerism and other hurdles not tossed in front of purely public schools. 

A number of OC-based schools are included in the report, including Capistrano Connections Academy in San Juan Capistrano, Aliso Viejo's Journey School, Anaheim's El Rancho Charter, Orange's Santiago Charter Middle School, and Santa Ana's Nova Academy Early College High, Samueli Academy, Orange County Educational Arts Academy and Orange County School of the Arts. 

El Rancho and the Orange County School of the Arts were outed in violation of limiting enrollment based on academic performance. Nova Academy was found to have used interviews and essays in determining admission. Journey School and the Orange County Educational Arts Academy both got dinged for illegal parent/guardian volunteer requirements.

The vetting that netted the most OC charter schools? Requirements discouraging attendance from undocumented students (surprise, surprise). Capistrano Connections Academy, Journey School, Nova Academy and Santiago Charter Middle School all ended up on the ACLU and Public Advocates' list for that no-no. 

“We hope this report brings to light practices that prevent charter schools from fulfilling their obligations to all students who seek access to a quality education,” says ACLU staff attorney Victor Leung in a press release. “The report should make it clear to all charter school authorizers and operators that they must play on a level playing field and cannot cherry-pick the students they enroll.”

No OC charters appear on the list of schools discrimination against English language learners seeking admission. But if parents or others find local schools noted in the report, the ACLU readily provides complaint forms. It's also calling on the California Department of Education to adopt and enforce guidelines for the offending charter schools. 

“The idea behind charters was never to create private academies with public funds,” added Public Advocates managing attorney John Affeldt in a press release. “Charter schools, like regular public schools, need to be open to all students. Admission requirements and processes that limit access or discourage certain kinds of students have no place in the public school system.”

Interestingly enough, missing from the statewide master list are the much-maligned Magnolia charter schools, including the Santa Ana campus, linked to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. Earlier this year, two local educators signed on to a complaint bankrolled by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has got it out for Gulen in ways not since Stalin hounded Trotsky back in the day.

More on that fiasco very soon! 

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