is a Marin Charter School being favored?

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The state report says the Sausalito Marin City district
favors the Willow Creek Academy charter school
over the traditional Bayside MLK.

 (civil rights officials and the state attorney general are concerned)

28 percent of San Rafael City Schools’ Hispanic 12th-grade students graduate
completing all courses needed for entrance to University of California.
This is 4 percentage points lower than the state average

The Willow Creek Academy charter school and Sausalito Marin City School District are calling a state report critical of its operations highly inaccurate and unfair.


Bayside MLK

  Willow Creek Charter
White ?   43%
Latino 31%   27%
Asian or Pacific Islander ?   12%
Black 47%   8%
Filipino, multi-racial and Native American ?   10%
 Low Income 72%   ?
 English Learners 38%   ?
Funding per student for  instruction $11,274   $7,100
 District Funding for
Special Education
?   $730,000 the charter does not pay for
 District Funding for Miscellaneous ?    $235,000

9/1/16 The Marin County superintendent of schools has requested the U.S. Office of Civil Rights and state superintendent of public instruction look into the Sausalito Marin City School District after a report highly critical of its operations.

The 106-page report issued last month by the state Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team concluded the Sausalito Marin City School District board favors a charter school in Sausalito to the detriment of minority children who attend a traditional campus in Marin City. The team will return in six months to see if there have been changes.

Mary Jane Burke, county superintendent of schools, who asked for the review, now has written to federal civil rights officials to determine if an investigation is warranted. Another letter to state Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson asks his office to request an opinion from the California attorney general to investigate whether the school board has a conflict of interest. Four of the five school board members have ties to the charter school.

“We have children who have not yet been provided with an education we know that they need,” Burke told more than 200 people who gathered at the Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy multipurpose room to hear from the authors of the state report at a meeting of the county school board Wednesday night.

Many of those who turned out were outraged members of the Willow Creek Academy charter school community, who called into question the accuracy of the state report.

“The report before you is factually incorrect, draws erroneous conclusions and makes recommendations that would hurt the very high-need kids the report aims to protect,” Kurt Weinsheimer, acting board president at the charter school, told the county board. “It also fuels divisiveness in our district when collaboration is what we need to solve the district’s very real education problems.”

Weinsheimer requested the report recommendations pertaining to Willow Creek be rejected by the county board, and allow charter school officials to present their own report.

A top concern among Willow Creek backers is the assertion that a “pattern has been established at WCA to create a segregated school” in part because it limits the number of special education students, according to the report.

Several parents of special-needs children said the charge is not true and others added that in terms of race, the school’s (?404-member?) student body is highly diverse. At Willow Creek 43 percent of students are white, 27 percent are Latino, 12 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander, 8 percent are black, with 10 percent — Filipino, multi-racial and Native American children — falling into the “other” category, according to data provided by school backers at the meeting.

Willow Creek officials also noted 150 Marin City children currently attend the charter, while the enrollment of Bayside MLK is 143 students.

Some of those who supported the state report had no qualms with the educational program at Willow Creek, but said it is partly funded by pulling dollars away from the Bayside MLK by a board that is aligned with the charter school.

Daniel Norbutas, former principal at Bayside MLK who left in 2014, said the school’s successful program was dismantled by the board.

“The board made conscious decisions to eliminate programs at this school,” he said, noting credentialed math, science and English positions were eliminated, while cuts were made to foreign language, art, music, physical education and counseling. “Absolute cuts for the last four years; it has been a continual draw-down of what’s been effective at this school. Subsequently there was increasing funding every single year to Willow Creek.”

The state report called into question two areas of funding: roughly $730,000 for special education the charter does not pay for, and an estimated $235,000 the district provides in furnishings and equipment, utilities, trash service, alarm monitoring and grounds upkeep.

While not illegal, board critics say those dollars could be used for education programs at Bayside MLK. But Willow Creek backers note more is spent on students at Bayside MLK. The district’s most recent budget shows funding per student for instruction is $11,274 at Bayside MLK and $7,100 at Willow Creek.

Josh Barrow, a member of the Sausalito Marin City School Board, said his goal is to address the “appalling achievement gap” in the district at both schools, adding that the state agency that did the report “doesn’t understand our district.”

“I want to fix things,” Barrow, a Marin City resident, told the crowd. “What this report fails to put in context around that achievement gap ... is that the achievement gap exists also at Willow Creek. We all need to fix that.”

County School Board President Dr. Curtis Robinson concluded at the end of the four-hour hearing that change is needed in the local district.

“I’m concerned about the kids that have been left behind, the kids in Marin City that need the extra help to bring equity to the situation here in Marin,” he said. “We need to talk about segregation, racism, institutional racism, even if people don’t understand that the actions that they are taking are to the detriment of another group of people.”

He suggested a merger between the Sausalito Marin City district and the Mill Valley School District to “finish this nonsense of a segregated county.”

source Marin IJ , Mark Prado

 The Sausalito Marin City School District may join a new state pilot program to help boost Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy, which has struggled with poor student performance.

The Sausalito Marin City School District appears poised to join forces with a new state program in an effort to boost Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy, which has struggled with poor student performance.

The head of the newly formed state California Collaborative for Educational Excellence visited Marin City this week to discuss the program with the school board. A pilot program would offer advice, assistance and resources and follow an education blueprint already approved by the school board.

“We want to work with people at the local level to get them the right kind of help to rescue kids,” Carl Cohn, executive director of the program, told the Sausalito Marin City School District board at a Wednesday meeting. “We want to help implement a cycle of continuous improvement.”

Cohn said while his group will help, and specifics will come, it will be locals who will have a large role in the process.

“We are not going to come in and force anyone to do anything,” Cohn said.

The help from the state comes as another state agency, the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, issued a report last month critical of the Sausalito Marin City School District board, saying it favors the Willow Creek Academy charter school over Bayside MLK. The district and Willow Creek officials have denied the assertions.

One board member said community interest is growing in the school process, and the timing could be right for the new collaborative program.

“It seems in the past two or three years we have had more community involvement and more community attention to what the school is doing,” said school board member Bill Ziegler.

A state-required Local Control and Accountability Plan that guides the district’s future will serve as the basis for the help the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence will provide. The accountability plan focuses on eight areas identified as state priorities. The plans will also demonstrate how the district’s budget will help achieve the goals, and assess each year how well the strategies in the plan were able to improve education.

“I am for us taking these next steps,” said Ida Green, school board member.

Superintendent Will McCoy said he would draft a resolution formally solidifying the partnership and bring it to the school board next month. There is no charge to the local district to be a part of the partnership, which will extend over several years.

The state agency was established by the governor and Legislature in 2013 — and only became fully operational in February — to advise and assist school districts.

The Legislature recently approved $24 million for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence; most of the funds will be used to train educators around the state, with $4 million set aside to develop four pilot programs to assist school districts.

At Bayside MLK, minorities account for more than 90 percent of the student body, which numbers 144. 47% of the students are black and 31% are Latino. 72% of students are classified as low income, while 38% are English learners. Recent test results show seventh- and eighth-graders are not at grade level.

The state agency is governed by a five-member board composed of the:-

  1. state superintendent of public instruction,
  2. the president of the state Board of Education,
  3. a county superintendent of schools appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules,
  4. a superintendent of a school district appointed by the governor, and
  5. a teacher appointed by the speaker of the Assembly.

The formation of the agency reflects a shift in California’s approach to improving student academic achievement from the more punitive and compliance-based approach of the defunct Federal No Child Left Behind Act, (now remnants are turned over to the States) to directing focus on control and accountability on a local level, according to the agency website.

source Marin IJ , Mark Prado



Proposed Charter School Appeals SRCS Board Decision,
Petition Moves to County Office

Note: This is an update to a series of previous information shared by SRCS about the District receiving a petition for an independent charter school in the San Rafael High School District, and the Board's subsequent decision to deny the petition. Click here for previous updates, as well as updated Frequently Asked Questions.

Following the San Rafael City School Board of Education's unanimous action to deny the Ipso Charter High School Charter Petition at its meeting on Sept. 26, the Ipso School co-founders submitted their petition to the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE) on Sept. 27. California's Education Code allows a petitioner to seek approval of a charter petition from a county board of education if the petition has been denied by a local school district governing board. Therefore, MCOE is now reviewing the petition and their Board will approve or deny the petition.

As part of their process, an appointed three-member Ad Hoc Committee of the MCOE Board of Education is reviewing the petition; meeting separately with representatives from SRCS and Ipso School; and will make a recommendation for approval or denial to the Marin County Board of Education.

According to MCOE, the timeline for the Ipso School petition by the MCOE Board is scheduled as follows:

Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016 MCOE Board Meeting:
The Board will hold a public hearing on the petition

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 MCOE Board Meeting:
The Board is scheduled to take action to grant or deny the petition

The Board meetings begin at 4:00 pm at the Marin County Office of Education, 1111 Las Gallinas Avenue, San Rafael. Both meetings are open to the public.

Throughout the MCOE process, the District intends to speak to the unanimous action taken by the SRCS Board in denying the petition, and the findings in the SRCS Staff Report that the petition be denied based on the following conclusions:

The petition fails to provide a reasonably comprehensive description of seven of the 15 required elements of a charter petition
The petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program presented

To learn more, please visit


San Rafael City Schools (SRCS) Board has received a petition from Ipso Schools proposing to open an independent charter school in the fall of 2017.

The final Board action on the charter petition is also scheduled for the Sept. 26 meeting, open to the public.
310 Nova Albion Way, San Rafael

  There's a PETITION "Stop IPSO Charter School from joining San Rafael City Schools"  I don't know enough about the quality of the existing school system to sign it.

Some Members of the San Rafael community have demonstrated strong support for Ipso School.

  • conducted over 18 individual and small group meetings with community and parent leaders from across the district.
  •  participated in Marin Community Clinics’ Health Hubs to reach out to families in the Canal neighborhood (“Canal”).
  •  held community engagement meetings to get input from families and students at Pickleweed Community Center.
  •  also held 2 larger meetings at Falkirk Cultural Center to share our vision and to solicit feedback from a wide range of community members.
  •  reached out to families through sports leagues, after school programs, and farmers’ markets.
  •  collected over 313 petition signatures from parents who are meaningfully interested in enrolling their children at Ipso School. Of these, 73 of these are parents that have students that would be in our first class of 9th graders in the fall of 2017. These signatures can be found in Appendix 1.


  •   full capacity is 528 students in grades nine through twelve.
  •  Page 173 plans to rent facilities within the District’s boundaries and has enlisted a local commercial real estate broker,  We have also initiated conversations with the San Rafael Planning Commission to identify a suitable private facility. The Charter School may pursue facilities through Education Code Section 47614 et seq. and its implementing regulations (“Prop. 39”). We need approximately 9,100 square feet of space for our 132 students in the year 2017-2018. We are budgeting $241,020 in rent for our first year.
  •  does not anticipate the need to make arrangements for transportation of the students,
  • the school will open with 132 students a budget of  $1.6 million
  • only two charter schools in Marin, 15-year-old Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito and 20-year-old Novato Charter School
  •  More recently, a proposed charter school in the Ross Valley School has generated controversy. This charter was rejected twice by the school board and once by the Marin County Board of Education, and after receiving approval from the State, has yet to secure a facility, with the fall only months away.
    Jan 2016: In a fiery meeting, the Ross Valley School Board agreed  to discontinue the district’s Multi-Age Program after this school year. It sparked high emotions among program proponents. Although the state Board of Education last week approved a plan to turn it into a charter school,

We will continue to outreach as we progress through the planning and start-up phases. Please refer to Element G for information regarding community meetings held thus far as well as a student recruitment plan.

In addition, Appendix 2 shows sample distribution materials shared within the community.
In addition to strong support from families, we have received strong support from a number of community leaders. Please see Appendix 3

San Rafael City High School District is

  • 42% Socioeconomically Disadvantaged, ( page 135 says 47%)
  • 17% English Learners,
  • 53% Hispanic or Latino,
  • 36% White,
  • 5% Asian,
  • 2% African American,

Students needing Special Education services made up 7.1% of all 9-12 students attending high schools in the San Rafael City High School District.

Need for College Preparatory Academics

Page 21 Marin County has wide disparities in education, health, and income. According to A Portrait of Marin: Marin County Human Development Report commissioned by the Marin Community Foundation in 2012, a resident of the town of Ross will live 7.5 years longer, is 5 times more likely to have a bachelor’s degree, and will earn $40,000 more per year than a resident of the Canal.

In education, the achievement gap measured in Standardized Testing and Reporting (“STAR”) test scores is stark in Marin County as well, with

  • 78% of white students and 75% of Asian students scoring proficient or above in 11th Grade English Language Arts (“ELA”) in 2013, with only
  • 34% of Latinos and 27% of African American students scoring proficient or above.

 In the San Rafael City High School District, these disparities are just as wide. On the same 2013 English Language Arts test in the San Rafael City High School District,

  • 81% of white students and 77% of Asian students were proficient or advanced while only
  • 29% of Latino students and 39% of African American students were proficient or advanced.

Large disparities also exist according to socioeconomic status.

  • While 77% of students who are not socioeconomically disadvantaged scored proficient or advanced on the 2013 11th Grade English Language Arts test, only
  • 27% of socioeconomically disadvantaged students scored proficient or advanced.

The same disparities in achievement are also seen in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (“CAASPP”) results from 2015 as shown below. As with the STAR tests, these gaps are significantly greater than statewide achievement gaps. See Tables 2 - 8 for a summary of achievement data from the 2013 California Standards Test (“CST”) in the San Rafael City Schools, Marin County and the State of California5, and the 2015 CAASPP results from the San Rafael City High School District and Marin County.