Nov. 29: Thirteen binders of material from the American Indian Model Schools charter school organization were delivered to the Oakland Unified School District offices this week in response to the "notice of violation" it had received this fall from OUSD.
The prospect of OUSD shutting down three of the city's top-scoring schools, displacing 1,210 students, stems from a Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team report that was released in June. Auditors cited numerous examples of self-dealing and conflicts of interest by the organization's founder, Ben Chavis, and his wife, Marsha Amador.
Prompted by whistle-blower complaints and, later, a formal request from Alameda County Superintendent Sheila Jordan, investigators spent months poring through records. In June, they reported finding that Chavis, Amador and their numerous real estate and consulting businesses had received about $3.8 million in public funds between mid-2007 and the end of 2011. The organization's governing board, which is responsible for ensuring tax dollars are properly spent, did nothing to stop it, the report concluded.
Chavis served on the board for a period of time while he was employed as the organization's
The case has been turned over to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. So far, no word on what, if any, criminal charges will be filed.
The Oakland school district has not released the response from AIM Schools, but Troy Flint, the district's spokesman, says we can expect a summary from OUSD next week.
"We just received a voluminous response -- thousands of pages -- from American Indian on Monday night and are still sorting through it. No determination has been made on when this matter will be heard by the Board," Flint wrote in an email.
What happens next?
1) The district evaluates the response.
2) If OUSD staff and board decide the response isn't sufficient to address the district's concerns, they will likely hold a public charter revocation hearing, which would have to be on or before Jan. 25.
3) Thirty to 60 days after the public hearing -- if there is such a hearing -- the OUSD board makes a final decision on whether to revoke the charters for all three American Indian Model schools.
As soon as I have the summary, I'll let you know. A message left for Jason Chu, the acting director of AIM Schools, was not immediately returned.
The three schools run by the American Indian Model organization are: American Indian Public Charter School (grades 5-8) at 3637 Magee Ave. in the Laurel district; American Indian Public Charter School II (K-8) at 171 12th St. in Chinatown; and American Indian Public High School, also on Magee Avenue.
Nov. 28: A new youth theater company, Gritty City Rep, opens its 2012-13 season Dec. 6 with a performance of "Anon(ymous)" by Naomi Iizuka. Gritty City's executive artistic director, Lindsay Krumbein, says most of the actors are Oakland public school students and that the company is the first of its kind in the city.
The group rehearses six hours a week in downtown Oakland. Its first show of the season opens at the Berkeley City Club Theatre on Dec. 6 and runs for two weeks. Krumbein describes "Anon(ymous)" as "very physical, minimalist, dealing with issues of war and immigration, exploitation of refugees -- relevant stuff. Not your typical 'high school theatre' by any stretch of the imagination."
You can catch an 8 p.m. performance at Berkeley City Club Theatre (2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley) on December 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, and 15 -- or a 2 p.m. show on Dec. 8 and 15. For details, go to www.grittycityrep.org.