OAKLAND -- The University Preparatory Charter Academy offers an innovative academic program, but if it doesn't overhaul its governing board and ensure that future tests are properly administered, it won't exist after Aug. 24, Oakland school district staff stated in a report released today.
The staff report details numerous ways in which the East Oakland school known as Uprep violated state law as well as its charter agreement with the school district.
Among the problems cited in the report are infrequent and undocumented board meetings and a general lack of oversight on the school's curriculum, leadership or finances. Staff also noted that the state department of education has twice invalidated the school's test scores because of "adult testing irregularities" such as suspicious erasures and the illegal use of 2005 test booklets to prepare students for the 2007 exams.
It also referred to a pending investigation into "possible fraud, misappropriation and/or abuse of funds on the part of Uprep."
This isn't the first time Uprep has received such a warning from the Oakland school district. Just last year, the school's leadership persuaded district staff -- including Liane Zimny, Uprep's new interim director -- to keep it open.
The most recent report dryly refers to the school's previous plans for improving itself. It notes that the apparent cheating documented by the state department of education in 2006 and 2007 occurred after Uprep hired a testing director -- a staff change made in response to the district's concerns that the school wasn't testing many of its students.
Uprep science teacher Greg Molkentin said the district's findings came as no surprise, given what many of the teachers, themselves, have recently brought to light. Many of those complaints revolved around founding director Isaac Haqq, who quit last week.
"We're still pretty hopeful and positive about the whole thing," Molkentin said. "Hopefully we can rectify some of the wrongs and get the school up and running."
He added, "OUSD is doing not only the teachers a favor, but the students a favor."
Molkentin said he felt Zimny was the ideal person to remedy the problems flagged by district staff. After all, she was in their shoes until she resigned in April from her post as charter schools coordinator for the school district.
Zimny was the one who issued last year's warning to Uprep -- and who later recommended that it stay open for another five years.
Uprep has until Aug. 17 to convince district staff, once again, that it can follow its own charter.
E-mail Katy Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her Oakland schools blog at www.ibabuzz.com/education.