KIPP Refuses Agreement To Abide By Conflict of Interest Law; Gets Approved By State Board of Education

[Original Title]: Will KIPP Be Allowed To Bypass Conflict of Interest Law In Its Bid For State Funds?
[3/14/18] Update: The California State Board of Education has voted to approve two KIPP petitions to expand campuses into San Francisco and San Jose despite strong community resistance and knowledge of the charter chain’s refusal to agree to abide by a basic conflict of interest law – Government Code 1090. The following is an open letter that had been sent to the State Board of Education to urge a no vote on the expansions.   For related posts on past State Board of Education votes, see here and here.
Dear California State Board of Education Trustees,

We urge you to uphold local decisions by publicly elected board trustees to deny the KIPP charter petitions that will be up for appeal at your March 14th meeting.  San Jose’s East Side Union High School District has more charters than traditional public schools and is facing budget drains of over 15 million dollars per year as a result. Such losses impact valuable student supports, human resources, and programs. Charter schools are the recipients of millions of dollars of public funding, yet many insist on private governance without equivalent standards for transparency, open meetings, or compliance with conflict of interest laws. To see the impact of these lax governance and oversight policies as they have unfolded, consider the following:

1) NAACP Calls For a Moratorium on Charter School Expansion 
The following links lead to the official NAACP statement about the resolution and the original resolution with research links. See also the recent Task Force report/recommendations, which specifically highlight the importance of local governance in decision-making about charter schools.
KIPP is mentioned several times throughout this report (see refs for p. 7 and 21 in addition to the quotes below).
A study of KIPP charter schools – the largest corporate charter school chain in the U.S. – found that they enrolled a much lower percentage of students with disabilities (5.9%) than did their local public schools (12.1%). The same was true for English language learners (11.5% compared to 19.2%). p. 11   
“For example, the KIPP network of charter schools, well- known for their strict, military-style atmosphere,
 loses 15% of their students per year, far higher than their surrounding school districts.”
The patterns revealed in the above report are consistent with other published critiques of KIPP and with our own local San Jose data.
KIPP is also mentioned several times within this report. Below is a quote related to their partnership with the El Dorado SELPA. It’s not clear if the “Oakland” KIPP named here is referring to a main office where the San Jose KIPP appears to be been governed or if it’s referring to actual KIPP campuses located in Oakland. If the San Jose KIPP currently uses El Dorado but is not listed below, then would the new KIPP East Side also be governed by Oakland? What kind of oversight has been done with any of the KIPPs surrounding special education and have any of the issues below been addressed and/or resolved?

One of the state’s fastest-growing SELPAs is El Dorado County’s charter-only SELPA, whose number of affiliated charter schools has grown in just years from 41 in 2011 to 264 in 2016. The affiliates include many of the state’s largest CMO chains. Schools affiliated with the Alliance chain in Los Angeles, KIPP in San Francisco and Oakland, King-Chavez in San Diego, and Rocketship in San Jose all have their special education needs met by rural El Dorado County, hundreds of miles away in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. 

This flood of long-distance affiliation may reflect a substantial financial incentive. For instance, where the LAUSD SELPA traditionally retained 100% of a school’s special education funding, along with a contribution from each schools’ general fund, most charter schools associated with the El Dorado SELPA pay the SELPA no more than 5% of their special education funding, keeping the rest.  In return, of course, the El Dorado SELPA also provides more limited services, and these schools are responsible for meeting their students’ needs. But for schools with limited numbers of special education students—or whose students’ needs are sufficiently mild that a school’s staff can meet them with minimal need for outside professional help—the arrangement may make financial sense. All ten schools in the Rocketship chain, for instance, were affiliated with the El Dorado SELPA in 2015-16, with special education students accounting for just 5.5% of their combined student body—less than half the statewide average.  Such schools may realize substantial savings by retaining average per-pupil special education funding while serving below-average needs. But as a result, their home districts are left serving the neediest children but without the needed resources.”
(p. 34) 

4) KIPP‘s Efforts to Hide Data While Seeking Millions in Taxpayer Subsidies (Center for Media and Democracy).  Consider the details provided within the Center for Media and Democracy analysis given the following 6 minute video  from the Santa Clara County Board’s denial of KIPP for failure to agree to abide by a basic conflict of interest government code

As you are likely aware, KIPP is the recipient of millions of dollars of corporate funding and has a robust marketing team that has been effective in portraying a glowing public image of the charter chain that has been impactful in swaying both interest and support. Prior to the recent scandal involving allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by KIPP co-founder Mike Feinberg, it was rare for the general public to hear media-based counter-narratives about KIPP. Critical perspectives are widespread, however, and important to consider, as they relate to the ways that children are being treated. For more on these concerns, please read a review of KIPP‘s practices in the following book by Jim Horn, and consider the KIPP subset of updates within this larger collection of concerns.

Finally, see the following publication from Dr. Preston Green, published in the Indiana Law Journal regarding gaps in charter school authorization and oversight processes that pave the way to waste, loss, and corruption within the sector.  Recommendations are summarized in the following overview of the piece.

We urge you to respect and uphold the decisions of our locally elected school boards and to vote NO on the KIPP petitions. 

Dr. Roxana Marachi, Education Chair of the San José / Silicon Valley NAACP
Rev. Jethroe Moore II, President of the San José / Silicon Valley NAACP
Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, State Education Chair, California NAACP

3/13/18 10:18pm Update:
The following is a screenshot taken from the most recent file uploaded to the CDE page of documents related to the KIPP East San Jose vote:  Screenshot is taken from the bottom of the last page: 

For more, see:

4 thoughts on “KIPP Refuses Agreement To Abide By Conflict of Interest Law; Gets Approved By State Board of Education

  1. thanks–just posted on Facebook pages

    Bob Lawson In The Public Interest 510-219-9418

    On Tue, Mar 13, 2018 at 11:21 AM, EduResearcher wrote:

    > Roxana Marachi, Ph.D posted: ” Should KIPP be allowed to bypass compliance > with basic conflict of interest laws and be given millions of dollars of > public funds to open new schools when so many questions and concerns remain > about its governance and practices? The following is an ope” >

  2. thanks Roxana – pl clarify who the “Legislative Counsel” is whose statement is appended above, and what State Board of Education’s legal opinion is as to these conflict of interest provisions – if they expressed it or simply ignored the issue.

  3. So this is a June 2017 letter from the Office of Legislative Counsel – described as an office that “has continuously operated …to assist the Legislature, the Governor, and other state officers by providing nonpartisan legal services relating to the legislative process.” The State Board seems to rely instead on the legal counsel of the CDE, a man named Edmundo Aguilar, Chief Counsel. Could you perhaps ask a friendly CA state legislator to write a letter to the State Board, asking for their legal opinion on this issue of conflict of interest, and why the charter was approved despite the fact that the Legislative Counsel holds that this law applies to charter schools and KIPP refuses to comply? thanks Leonie

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