Griffin Technology Academies hope to move forward after receiving ‘wake-up call’ – Times-Herald
Griffin Technology Academies says it agrees with the school district’s issues with its four charter schools and is acting in good faith to resolve the issues.
The Vallejo City Unified School District sent draft Notices of Violation and Opportunity for Healing to GTA last month. A Notice of Violation is the first step in initiating charter revocation proceedings against the four charter schools. If not corrected, the VCUSD Board of Directors may consider sending a Notice of Intent to Revoke to one or more of the four schools – Mare Island Technology Academy Middle and High Schools as well as Middle Schools and Griffin Academy High Schools.
“Closing a school is never taken lightly,” VCUSD Superintendent William Spalding said in a press release in April. “As an authorizer, VCUSD has a responsibility to ensure that Vallejo students are in a safe and fiscally responsible learning environment with taxpayer dollars that serve the best interests of students and the community. The pattern we have seen from the leadership of Mare Island Technology Academy and Griffin Academy is very disturbing.
Spalding said one of the biggest concerns wasn’t about the presence of toxic mold in his buildings and holding classes for nearly a month even after the mold was discovered.
On June 6, Griffin Technology Academies administrators, teachers, and students submitted the school’s response to the Notices of Violation. On the same day, the GTA Board of Trustees approved the Legal Submission and Pathway Forward Plan which includes five priorities: Government/Leadership, Budget/Finance, Curriculum, Accountability for Student Outcomes, and Safe Facilities.
“I am encouraged by our Pathway Forward plan which will provide VCUSD and the entire GTA school community with confidence that our schools are moving in a positive direction for our students,” said Nick Driver, who serves as superintendent. acting from GTA since March. “Over the past three months, our administration team has worked tirelessly with VCUSD as well as experts in various fields to address the many mistakes made by previous GTA administrations.”
Last week, Driver said progress was being made to resolve the issues.
“Lost in communication via the VCUSD press release is that GTA has worked through many of the issues outlined in the infringement notices and made significant developments,” Driver told The Times-Herald. “Over the past few months, GTA has acted in good faith to resolve the issues with VCUSD. As the new Acting Superintendent, I felt encouraged by our progress and related discussions with VCUSD. »
By law, VCUSD can revoke all four charters if GTA has done any of the following:
- Has committed a material breach of any of the terms, standards, or procedures set forth in the charter.
- Has not achieved or pursued any of the student outcomes identified in the charter.
- Did not follow generally accepted accounting principles.
- Committed to fiscal mismanagement; and/or violated any law (Ed. Code § 47607(f)).
“GTA has not broken any law or violated any terms of our charters that we have not remedied or corrected,” Driver said. “Ed Code specifically allows schools and school districts to correct problems. This is also true when it comes to accounting principles and tax management, we have not committed any violations that we have not corrected. Section 47607 (g) 1 of the Education Code provides that charter schools shall be given a “reasonable opportunity to remedy the violation, unless the charter authority determines, in writing, that the violation poses a serious threat and imminent threat to the health or safety of students.’ Pursuant to California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (“5 CCR”), Section 11968.5.2(c)(1).
“So the central question for the district and its board, as well as the community, is whether at this time, not six months ago, but now, there are currently existing and ongoing violations. by GTA that have not been fixed and cannot be fixed as proposed,” Driver continued, “and which justify the displacement of 1,076 students and the elimination of four school choice options in Vallejo. And the clear answer is no. To be clear, we agree with the District that there have been missteps in GTA operations. But none of these missteps legally create a basis for revocation under section 47607.”
Driver said the school community had been distracted over the past few years and that the pandemic and failed school leadership ’caused us to lose our game’ and said the situation was a ‘big wake up call’ .
“While continuing to make great strides academically, our organization as a whole should have responded better,” Driver said in a press release. “GTA neglected our current campus sites. We have ceased to recognize and appreciate our great teachers. And, we have failed to involve our families in the great things that are happening in our schools. It’s my job to deliver on our promise to GTA families and the entire Vallejo community – to learn from past mistakes and become a stronger organization in the future. Each of our middle and high schools is bouncing back – and next year will be our best year in many years. We are so grateful for the trust our families place in us to educate their children.
In its plan, GTA said that effective Wednesday, four GTA board members will step down, including Lynne Vaughan, Debbie Lamb and Jim Shorter. GTA wrote in the plan that it has recruited and will continue to recruit new board members, including parents, community members, and people experienced in managing and leading organizations. The organization elected a new board member at a May 24 meeting and plans to elect another on June 28.
The new bylaws will prohibit former members from joining the board until they have been absent from the board for at least three years.
Regarding security, GTA said it has taken the following steps to address issues on campus, including:
- Staff and students were immediately sent home when the investigation following the mold tests revealed the extent of the problem.
- The general contractor repairs all the rooms that will be occupied, both inside and outside.
- Hiring new leaders.
- Negotiated temporary housing with VCUSD on the Corcoran and Beverly Hills campuses.
- Provide weekly communications with updates regarding his progress to his families, district, staff and community.