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Charter School Update
Posted 6/17/19

Newport-Mesa Unified School District

June 17, 2019

In March 2019, the Orange County Board of Education (OCBOE) voted 3-2 to approve a county-authorized charter school, International School for Science and Culture (ISSAC), that will operate within the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) boundaries for the 2019-20 school year.

The NMUSD Board of Education denied this charter school for numerous reasons. A full explanation of denial can be found in the Resolution Denying the Charter Petition for ISSAC.

As a county-authorized charter, the OCBOE has oversight responsibilities for the charter school although it is primarily funded by NMUSD and our taxpayers.

Pursuant to Education Code Section 47614 (commonly referred to as “Prop 39”), ISSAC submitted a request to use NMUSD facilities. The District processed the request, and ultimately determined that ISSAC was not entitled to District facilities pursuant to the Prop 39 standards and requirements. ISSAC disagreed and continued to pursue District facilities. In order to resolve the dispute and avoid the costs of litigation, the District and ISSAC negotiated an agreement, in lieu of Prop 39, for  ISSAC to occupy a portion of the District’s Harper Assessment Center site for the 2019-20 school year. This agreement was approved by the NMUSD Board of Education on June 14, 2019.

As a reminder, the ISSAC charter school is NOT a school or program of NMUSD. It is important to know that students enrolled in this charter school will no longer be students of NMUSD or their current elementary school and those children will not be eligible for support services, resources or any programs offered by NMUSD. We urge you to consider all aspects of a school in order to make the best decision for your child and family. To assist your consideration, we have provided a few examples of the differences between NMUSD schools and the new charter school in the link below. While this information does not go into great detail, nor does it cover all aspects of NMUSD schools or the county-authorized charter, it can be used as a starting point to guide your research and decision-making process.

Program Comparison Chart - English

Program Comparison Chart - Spanish

 


March 29, 2019

Dear Parents,

Please be advised that the ISSAC charter school is NOT a school or program of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD). In March 2019, the Orange County Board of Education (OCBOE) voted 3-2 to approve a county-authorized charter school that will operate within the NMUSD boundaries for the 2019-20 school year.

The NMUSD Board of Education denied this new charter school for numerous reasons. A full explanation of denial can be found in the Resolution Denying the Charter Petition for ISSAC. As a county-authorized charter, the OCBOE has oversight responsibilities for the charter school although it is primarily funded by NMUSD and our taxpayers.

It is important to know that students enrolled in this charter school will no longer be students of NMUSD or their current elementary school and those children will not be eligible for support services, resources or any programs offered by NMUSD. We urge you to consider all aspects of a school in order to make the best decision for your child and family. To assist your consideration, we have provided a few examples of the differences between NMUSD schools and the new charter school. While this information does not go into great detail, nor does it cover all aspects of NMUSD schools or the county-authorized charter, it can be used as a starting point to guide your research and decision-making process.

Thank you for your continued support.
Dr. Frederick Navarro
Superintendent

Program Comparison Chart - English

Program Comparison Letter - Spanish
Program Comparison Chart - Spanish

Correspondence to OCBOE outlining our continuing objections -Spanish

NMUSD Board’s resolution denying ISSAC’s charter - Spanish
Correspondence to OCBOE outlining our continuing objections -Spanish

NMUSD Board’s resolution denying ISSAC’s charter - Spanish


March 8, 2019

Last week we communicated with you about a request for approval of the International School for Science and Culture (ISSAC) charter school that was seeking to locate within our school district boundaries.

Despite opposition to the charter by a broad spectrum of speakers and audience members, including parents, community members, union leaders, district administrators, and Board members - and without resolving the concerns with the charter - the Orange County Board of Education (OCBOE) voted 3-2 to approve ISSAC at its March 6 meeting.

We are extremely disappointed in the OCBOE’s decision to approve the Newport-Mesa taxpayer-funded charter, despite the many deficiencies that were identified by NMUSD and the Orange County Department of Education staff.

As public education leaders, we are stewards of high-quality education for all students in the district and we work diligently to protect taxpayer dollars. Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) Board of Education previously voted unanimously against the charter, due to major flaws and deficiencies we believe remain in the OCBOE-approved petition. Our concerns include an unsound educational plan and an unsustainable financial plan. We reiterated these concerns to the OCBOE, in writing and during the meeting, before the OCBOE approved ISAAC.

ISSAC does not have a location for its school, but it intends to begin operations in the 2019-2020 school year.

We urge our school community to make informed decisions regarding our children’s education. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with NMUSD’s concerns about this charter school. To facilitate that review, you can view the NMUSD Board’s resolution denying ISSAC’s charter and our correspondence to OCBOE outlining our continuing objections. NMUSD will continue to maintain quality education for all of our students and at all of our district schools. As always, we appreciate your support. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Fred Navarro
Superintendent

Correspondence to OCBOE outlining our continuing objections -Spanish

NMUSD Board’s resolution denying ISSAC’s charter - Spanish

 


February 28, 2019

To the Newport-Mesa Educational Community,

A controversial issue is being discussed at the March 6 meeting of the Orange County Board of Education (OCBOE) that will negatively impact everyone in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD). As a member of the NMUSD educational community you need to know that we are working diligently to expose and stop this misguided effort.

Last September, a questionable petition was presented to the NMUSD Board of Education seeking to create a taxpayer funded charter school called the International School for Science and Culture (ISSAC). After careful review against the legal standards, our trustees could not in good conscience approve the petition. NMUSD unanimously voted it down.

In a 16-page resolution of denial, we provided a detailed critique pointing out the major flaws and deficiencies in the petition. Its financial plan was unsustainable and its educational plan was unsound. Sure, it had a fancy name, but it couldn’t be backed up with anything but vague promises. The petition sought to use taxpayer funds taken from our community as “venture capital” in a highly speculative, flawed proposition.

Resolution of Denial – Denying the Charter Petition for International School for Science and Culture

This charter school is a bad idea that keeps coming back

This was not a new petition, but a repackaging of the failed Adrian Hands Academy Charter application that had been previously denied three times by a neighboring school district. Just like Adrian Hands, the ISSAC charter was riddled with errors, false assumptions, inaccurate data, and faulty projections. Furthermore, the so-called Spanish translated version was so rife with translation errors as to be rendered meaningless.

The Charter school simply could not substantiate its business or educational plans. Our findings pointed out essential defects that the charter needed to correct, if possible. They could have done their homework and resubmitted a revised petition, but instead they went over our heads and submitted it to the county in a deliberate choice to end-run local control and seek a more favorable “pro-charter” audience with the OCBOE. It is significant to note that the state charter advocacy organization has been ramping up its participation in local elections to build an infrastructure of pro-charter elected officials in Orange County and across the state.

OCBOE appears to have made up its mind despite the facts

It is up to elected trustees of local district and county boards of education to be prudent stewards of public funds. At the same time they have to protect the educational needs and interests of all students and their families. In this situation, the NMUSD Board has fulfilled that mandate. We can only hope that the OCBOE will do the same.

The most recent OCBOE meeting was frustrating, troubling, and disrespectful. A positive decision appeared to be pre-ordained despite the fact that OCDE staff found many of the same defects as had NMUSD. The OCBOE so limited the public comment period that our parents who had genuine concerns that needed to be heard were not allowed an opportunity to speak.  It is telling that in all of the five public meetings to date on this charter, only parents of two potential students have expressed interest in this proposed school. 

Our parents don’t want this charter! In fact, many vehemently oppose it. The final approval was put off by OCBOE at the last minute to allow the charter petitioners to attempt to fix the charter. It is coming back to the OCBOE for final action on March 6.

What’s at stake?

The ISSAC charter wants to strip millions of dollars from the Newport-Mesa tax base to pay for their start-up. This is a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on valuable NMUSD programs and services to students. It would be unfortunate for these funds to instead be diverted to finance an unsound educational program. The defects in the proposal also put at risk the educational opportunities that would be afforded to students who enroll at the charter school.

What can you do?

First, read up on ISSAC so you can get past the rhetoric and promises and see it for what it is . . . an unsound educational proposal.

Second, email the members of the Orange County Board of Education to express your concern about their support of ISSAC.

Third, come to the March 6 meeting to tell county decision makers in person that you don’t want an inferior charter school trying to market itself as a quality alternative to our excellent public schools.

Parental choice and educational options that enable students to find their best pathway to success are important values we support in Newport-Mesa. This charter petition is not a quality choice for parents and students.

We appreciate your continuing support. We know you have high expectations for your students and our schools. We strive every day to deliver an excellent educational experience for every child.

Sincerely,

Dr. Fred Navarro

Superintendent

Newport-Mesa Educational Community Letter - English
Newport-Mesa Educational Community Letter - Spanish