(ANTIOCH) — On Wednesday March 19, the Board of Trustees of the Antioch Unified School District will be considering a controversial and divisive petition that has been submitted to convert Dozier-Libbey Medical High School into an independent charter high school that is not part of AUSD.
In anticipation of that Board meeting, District administrators were joined by civic officials and community leaders at a news conference Tuesday to discuss the impact of that petition. They also announced the District’s receipt of a competing petition submitted jointly by Antioch High School Principal Louie Rocha, Deer Valley High School Principal Kenneth Gardner, and Assistant Superintendent Stephanie Anello, to create a dependent charter school that keeps Dozier-Libbey part of the school district. DLMHS parents were briefed on the latest option at an informational meeting last night.
“The 23 teachers who signed the independent charter petition want to convert one of our highest performing public high schools into a completely independent school separated from AUSD,” said AUSD Superintendent Donald Gill. “Dozier-Libbey was created through the ingenuity and close collaboration of the entire Antioch community. We see it as a community asset that should be accessible to every family and type of student in Antioch. The independent conversion charter reflects a policy of exclusion, while the dependent proposal is one of inclusion.”
The dependent charter petition was submitted to the District as a direct response to countless concerns voiced by parents and staff vehemently opposing the independent conversion charter petition. Since the surprise February 24 announcement that teachers at DLMHS had submitted the conversion charter petition parents have become increasingly anxious and confused about the possible negative impact of the move on students and the school district.
“We owe it to our community, parents, and employees to set the record straight about the facts and shortcomings of the independent charter petition,” Gill said.
The dependent charter petitioners, along with numerous teachers in the Antioch Unified School District, filed the competing dependent charter petition for the following reasons:
- To expand opportunities for parental involvement in the direct management of the school.
- To preserve admission preferences for residents of the District.
- To increase student enrollment capacity.
- To foster an academic environment inclusive of all students that want to attend, including English learners and students with special needs.
- To continue eligibility to participate in District sports teams.
- To provide certainty to the students currently enrolled in Dozier-Libbey as well as those selected in the lottery that they will be guaranteed admission to attend during the 2014-15 school year.
- To save jobs; 45 employees (29 teachers and 16 or more support staff) may lose their jobs if the conversion charter petition is approved.
Information provided by AUSD
What are the Major Differences Between the Private Conversion Charter Petition and the Dependent Charter Petition?
- The dependent charter petition maintains Dozier Libbey Medical High School as a school in the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD). The independent conversion charter petition states that the school will no longer belong to the Antioch Unified School District but will, instead, be run by anonprofit corporation.
- The dependent charter petition will allow AUSD students to continue participating in extracurricular Antioch Unified School District activities such as sports, the prom, etc. If the independent conversion charter petition is approved, students will not be able to participate in these activities as the school will no longer be an AUSD school.
- The dependent charter petition makes enrollment of Antioch Unified School District students a priority. The independent conversion charter petition does not.
- The dependent charter will assign students the grade they earn. The independent conversion charter petition eliminates the D grade. This means that students who score below 70% will receive a grade of F for the course and lose any credit for their work.
- The dependent charter petition will be part of the Contra Costa County Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA). This will allow parents and students greater access to the services they need.
- The dependent charter will be governed by the Antioch Unified School Board whose members are elected by the citizens of Antioch. The independent conversion charter will elect and be governed by their own board.
- The dependent charter will honor students’ due process rights regarding expulsion. The independent conversion charter does not provide due process safeguards for students.
- Teachers in the dependent charter will maintain their statutory rights with regards to tenure, seniority and other statutory rights. Teachers in the independent conversion charter will lose these rights and will be ‘at will’ employees of a yet to be named board of directors.