ANTIOCH -- Dozier-Libbey Medical High School teachers continue efforts to convert the school into a charter school, having filed a petition last week with the state Board of Education.

The teachers' appeal aims to reverse the Contra Costa County school board's denial of their autonomy bid in May and kicks off another chapter of a contentious issue that has divided the community in the past six months.

"It feels like there was a lot of politics involved (with the county decision) and that they did not follow the law and the ed code," Jeff Weber, a Dozier-Libbey history teacher, said. "We're pretty confident that we will get a clear hearing at the state, and they'll fully look at the petition."

Students leave the campus of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School in Antioch, Calif., Tuesday, March 11, 2014.  (Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group
Students leave the campus of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School in Antioch, Calif., Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group Archives)

The 351-page appeal rebuts the county board's reasons for denial and highlights the improvements that will be made possible for Dozier-Libbey students when the school is under independent control, Weber said.

The appeal was filed last week to make sure it was submitted before school starts and teachers' workload increases, said Robert Young, one of the lead petitioners.

The teachers' petition will go to the advisory commission on charter schools in October and the state Board of Education in November, said Pam Slater, a state board spokeswoman.

Antioch Unified Superintendent Donald Gill said Friday he hadn't had a chance to see the petition, but it was "frustrating to say the least" to hear that the petitioners continue to move forward, as it will bring more "turmoil and upheaval to the community."


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"We weren't really sure what they were going to do," Gill said.

He added that new interim Principal Scott Bergerhouse has said that ongoing meetings with the teachers had been "conciliatory and positive" with no mention of appeal.

The Dozier-Libbey case is unique in that there are dueling charter petitions on the table for the same school. However, the Antioch school district is under court order not to establish a district-run charter school until a final determination is made on the teachers' petition.

After the county decision, the district and teachers held several meetings to find common ground. Teachers, however, said in a news release they felt the district's efforts were insincere, particularly that parents and faculty were not included in the planning process for the upcoming school year, and former Principal Nancie Castro was replaced without justifiable cause.

"We felt that the district's offer was very 'take-it-or-leave-it,'" Young said.

District officials say the tentative agreement addressed many of the teachers' concerns, including adding an additional librarian and vice principal.

Gill said the district will continue to make overtures to the teachers about finding a way to resolve lingering issues. Young said the teachers would be open to the idea if the district were sincere in its efforts.

"The ball is in district's court," he said.

As a "conversion charter," Dozier-Libbey would continue to operate as a public school but would be recognized as an independent entity and receive funding directly from the state. It would be run by a board of directors, led by an executive director, develop its own budget, hire teachers and decide whether to contract out services.

Meanwhile, both Dozier-Libbey teachers and district administrators expressed hope that any future charter brouhaha will not disrupt the upcoming school year, which starts Aug. 13.

"Knowing our teaching staff, I don't think it's going to interfere," Young said.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.