To: Joseph Di Salvo <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Michael Chang <email@example.com>; Anna Song <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Grace Mah <email@example.com>; Julia Hover-Smoot <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Leon Beauchman <email@example.com>; Carmen Aminzadeh <Carmen_Aminzadeh@sccoe.org>; Xavier De La Torre <Xavier_DeLaTorre@sccoe.org>; Lucretia Peebles <Lucretia_Peebles@sccoe.org>
Sent: Thursday, October 4, 2012 7:52 AM
Subject: Concerns with Discovery II charter petition
Members of the Santa Clara County Office and Board of Education,
I wanted to speak to you in person last night, but unfortunately your closed session went too long and I had to leave for another commitment just as you were getting started with the open session.
I don't believe the existing Discovery school is adequately serving special needs students. I talked to a county alternative ed teacher last night, and he told me the claims in the charter petition are overstatements. From Discovery's own web site, they quite bluntly tell special needs students to not bother applying: "We do not have Special Day Classes for severely handicapped students, and we do not have classes or programs for students on the Autism Spectrum... We honestly feel that some children do better and are better served elsewhere." I highly encourage you to do your own research on how well Discovery is helping special needs students.
Another concern is that Discovery II is asking for more than just a charter school; they are asking for a whole charter district. It calls for 3 schools to be open in addition to the one that they already operate. This seems unprecedented to ask for 3 schools in one petition.
Also, I don't see any compelling reason why this must be a county charter. The petition has already scoped out individual districts in which to locate. I firmly believe that the county should do everything to encourage charter schools to work at the local level within school districts.
I think that the county already has far too many charter schools to properly oversee given the current resources you have devoted. It would be wise to reject this charter and other charters until you can implement changes to ensure that your charter school program scales successfully.
Finally, I think you can use this as an opportunity to raise the bar. I am still concerned that charter schools are not fully embracing section 47601(b). I would absolutely love to see a charter school that gave enrollment preference to academically low achieving, ELL, special needs, and low-SES students.
I saw all the supporters from Discovery there last night, and I'm sure their school has done well by them. But you have to ask the broader question: is the net effect helping improve educational outcomes for ALL students in the county? Or are they just sorting engaged students and families into their own school?
Thanks for listening.