In a glimmer of hope about the future of the American Indian Model Schools, a Superior Court judge on Thursday issued a temporary restraining order against a district plan to close the schools.

The ruling means AIMS can proceed with summer school as it awaits an appeal decision from the county Office of Education about the revocation of its charter.

“In terms of how the schools are functioning, they appear to be functioning at a very, very high level. So I would be very reluctant,” said Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio M. Grillo, deciding not to allow closure to happen before full consideration of an appeal. That decision is expected the end of this month.

About 1,200 local kids attend the AIMS schools, a charter organization renowned for the high academic achievement of its students. Standardized test scores put the three AIMS schools among the very best in the state.

The Oakland Unified School District board voted in March to revoke its charter after investigations determined that its founder Ben Chavis and his wife had misappropriated $3.8 million in taxpayer funds towards their personal gain.

OUSD gave the charter schools management a list of demands to clean up its books and improprieties in order to remain open but when AIMS failed to make all the changes demanded, the OUSD board of education voted 4 to 3 to revoke its charter. Charter schools use the same taxpayer money as public schools to operate and OUSD is the overseer.

Since then parents, students and teachers have been fighting to keep the schools open. They brought in a director, Nabeehah Shakir, and appealed the revocation to the Alameda County Board of Education. The county board is expected to decide June 25.

Judge Grillo said his temporary restraining order “is in no way considering the merits of revocation” but rather a practical matter that allows the schools to operate until a decision is made. He noted the seriousness of the “fiscal mismanagement” charges brought against AIMS in several independent investigations.

But parents, students and administrators were elated with the decision.

“The anxiety of having to get through the school year and not really know what the future is going to bring,” has been stressful, said parent Nadja Pentic. “Now to know there is hope. It’s good to know there are some people who put students first.”

Seventh grade student Jenny Yu said she had been sleepless many nights worried about what would happen to the school.

US News & World Report magazine ranked American Indian Model High School as the 13th best high school in the nation. The Washington Post named the school the number one most challenging high school in the nation. Situated in Oakland’s China Town, its students are mostly low income and the majority of them Asian. But all groups, Asian, Hispanic, African American and white seem to rise to the challenge of the rigorous curriculum and strict expectations of the schools and based on their successes.

9 Responses

  1. Open Secret

    It’s a whole lot easier to have high test scores when you systematically exclude students who don’t have them. Evidence of this can be found in official state data. AIMS schools enrolls only 6 students identified as special education according to their filings with the CDE. Oakland as a whole averages over 10% Special Education students. Circumstantially, it appears AIMS has some policy or policies that actively discourage the enrollment of SPED students. Special Ed students by definition have a discrepancy between their apparent ability and performance and are far more expensive to educate. We don’t know for certain if AIMS has other practices which artificially inflate their test scores, but anecdotal evidence indicates that they systematically screen applicants in violation of the state’s charter law. Publicly funded schools are required to educate everyone without regard to ethnicity, disability or other impediment to high test scores. And, American Indian Model schools enroll exactly 5 American Indians among their 1200 students.

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  2. todd

    California state law requires charter schools to admit all who apply, and hold a lottery if more students apply than spaces are available. Considering the Oakland School Board has done all it could to close down AIMS, I find it interesting they haven’t offered any proof to support the allegations you have made here Open Space. In the absence of proof, you sound like one of the many apologists who seem to prefer our students continue to fail.

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  3. Sue

    Open Secret, you might consider checking your facts. Anecdotal evidence isn’t evidence, it’s hearsay and it’s all you’ve brought to the discussion. It’s the same hearsay that’s been disproved countless times. Facts seem to roll right off of some people.
    The only policy AIMS has that discourages so-called SPED students is the policy to make them work for their grades. That in itself is terrifying to the masses of incompetents the union run public schools have been creating and nurturing for decades and they don’t want to attend AIMS schools for fear they may have to actually do something.

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  4. Paul B

    High test scores aren’t necessarily a measure of education or learning – they are a measure of the success of forcing teachers to tech to the test.

    It’s very sad that the students and families of the “American Indian” charter school were victimized by the shady dealings of the phony Ben Chavis and those on the Board and staff who enabled him.

    Sue’s comment about “union run public schools” is laughable. If teachers’ unions actually did run public schools, the students would be much better off, teachers wouldn’t be so overworked and underpaid, and the teachers wouldn’t be subject to harassment from true incompetents like Chavis and his ilk.

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  5. Open Secrets

    Sue and Todd
    I cite two specific facts. One is that AIMS schools enroll only 6 SPED students and the other is that they enroll only 5 American Indians. Both of these are easy for anyone to check by accessing public records. I submit that it is highly unlikely that a school in Oakland, whose Special Education population exceeds 10%, can have a SPED population of less than 0.5% unless there are policies and procedures in place which actively discourage the enrollment or identification of SPED students. Can I prove it? No–but it casts suspicion on the admissions/retention procedures of AIMS. In addition, charter schools are required by law to demonstrate that they actively seek to enroll students who reflect the ethnic composition of their chartering district. AIMS does not meet that criteria by any reasonable definition. This is prima facie evidence to suspect that there is an element of racial discrimination in the recruitment, admissions and retention policies of AIMS. I can cite a half dozen cases where parents stated to me that their children were denied admission to AIMS explicitly because of their performance on standardized tests–but, in my view, that remains anecdotal evidence. However, it is stronger than any evidence you have provided to the contrary.

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    • todd

      So you just make stuff up? Here’s the Charter Schools Admissions Preference Eligibility Charter that the OUSD provides to charter schools in the district to guide their admission’s policy:: http://www.weebly.com/uploads/4/1/6/1/41611/ousd_charter_admissions_matrix_v1.pdf

      Please show the part where charter schools “are required by law to demonstrate that they actively seek to enroll students who reflect the ethnic composition of their chartering district”. Can’t find it?

      Okay, here are the laws, regulations, and policies that the California Department of Educations uses in its oversight of charter schools in the state: http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cs/lr/

      Is it there instead? No? Then can you let me know where this law you mention can be found? Because I can’t seem to find it anywhere.

      But that’s not the funniest part of your post. No, the funniest part is your appeal to probability. It’s a logical fallacy. For there’s another possible reason why AIMS enrolls only 6 SPED and only 5 native american students, a more reasonable one really. And that’s these groups are underrepresented in the application pool. And until you can show otherwise with supporting facts, you really are just making stuff up.

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  6. Open Secrets

    Happily, Todd.
    It’s Education Code Section 47605 (b) ii (G), which details the requirements of the petition. It states:
    “(G) The means by which the school will achieve a racial and ethnic balance among its pupils that is reflective of the general population residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the school district to which the charter petition is submitted.”

    Of the nearly 40 charter schools in Oakland, there are few that enroll the same percentage of SPED students as OUSD–but AIMS is notable for the low number of identified SPED students. While not impossible that this is some odd coincidence, I don’t think Occam’s razor suggests the applicant pool is the likeliest reason.

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  7. Carl

    One has to wonder how the AIMS board member Nedir Bey was selected to board replace the previous board…do an online search for Mr. Bey’s background…how does a school that has been cited for Financial Mismanagement select Mr. Bey as a new member for the Board. Of course those that called for his resignation, and tried to turn the school around, got fired. Shame on the current board members for not asking him to resign as well. All except 4 teachers from all three AIMS school signed a petition to ask him to resign.

    The whole board has to be replace. Let the teachers and parents select new board members. It’s the hard work of the teachers that made it a high scoring school…not the board or Mr. Chavis. The model can be copied…without the current board or Mr. Chavis….restore integrity to AIMS…support the teachers who are working to start another charter school. The only way to get rid of the current board and cease any connection to Mr. “Crazy Fox” Chavez is to revoke the schools charter. I appreciate the dedication of the teachers at AIMS…throw your support to them to start a new charter school. Again…please check out Mr. Nedir Bey’s background…you will like myself wonder how he got on the board in light that the school has been accused of fiscal mismanagement. Parent of a son who just graduated from 8th grade at AIPCS II.

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