San Diego

County Board of Ed. Denies Petition for Julian Charter School Network

Parents, students, and teachers fear the petition’s denial jeopardizes the future of the many programs and academies vital to the students depending on them.

County education officials denied a petition Wednesday that would have allowed Julian Charter School to continue to operate within several school districts, with board members saying they must adhere to the law. 

It was standing room only at the San Diego County Board of Education special meeting where trustees discussed a countywide charter which would allow the school to continue to operate in locations scattered around the county.

School districts like San Diego Unified School District and Grossmont Union High School District want charter schools to adhere to California Education Code Section 47605, the legislation establishing charter schools.

The districts claim the law places geographic restrictions on where a charter school can open a campus.

“We’re tired of this fight,” Andra Greene, General Counsel for the San Diego Unified School District said at the special board meeting. “We’re telling you we don’t want this countywide benefit operating in our district. We don’t think it’s good for our kids.” 

However, operators of charter schools argue that provision of the education code only applies to full-time school sites, not so-called satellite facilities.

A San Diego judge ordered the Julian Union School District to revoke the charter however, the state Board of Education granted the schools a one-year waiver, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

On Wednesday, the County Board of Education denied a petition for certification for all of the JCS regional campuses.

Trustees said the school does not meet the qualifications.

"We believe the best course is to continue to support Julian as it currently exists within local districts," said SDCOE President Guadalupe Gonzalez, suggesting that the charter school officials work with Mountain Empire, Grossmont, La Mesa/Spring Valley, Ramona, Cardiff and SDUSD to get each learning center sponsored locally.

The decision affects 400 students and more than 50 employees. 

"I'm confused because they've approved schools that are similar to ours but our charter has a stronger foundation,” Julian Charter School Academy Coordinator Hillary Gaddis said.

Parents fear the decision will lead to a drop in quality and services.

"The smaller class size and the smaller school really meets their needs emotionally and academically," parent Virhaja Prema said.

Students, even the smallest in the gallery, said they have much to lose.

"When I was in kindergarten I was really shy and I love this school. I have been here for four years. I loved it and made a lot of friends," third-grade student Colette Hurd said.

“I'm going nuts. That's it,” said Sierra McDad, a student at La Mesa’s Innovation Center. “They shouldn't be doing this. This is our school this is my teacher.”

JCS can't appeal the board's decision.

Home study students are covered under a charter granted in February.

However, six other campuses will close on June 30, according to a spokesperson. 

They include JCS Innovations Centre Encinitas, JCS San Diego Academy of Art and Science, JCS San Diego Academy of Creative and Critical Thought, JCS Innovations Centre La Mesa, JCS Alpine Academy, and JCS Pine Valley Academy.

Another employee of the charter school said there has been a lot of brainstorming sparked by the decision on how to move forward including ideas like bussing students to one campus or working with private vendors.

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