"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, March 20, 2009

KIPP Bullying Tactics Against Fresno Unified Fail

Since the KIPP Fresno horrors emerged, KIPP, Inc.'s home office has attempted to paint itself, alternately, as the victim of ax-grinding parents, disgruntled employees, or the public school district out to shut them down out of jealous revenge for making them look bad. In order to push their self-portrait of system victim, they have recruited an army of supporters in and outside Fresno to march, attend meetings, and to make a joyful noise unto the name of KIPP.

This is the same tactic used by founders, Feinberg and Levin, since the early days of KIPP-Houston, when they manipulated students and parents in attempts to bully school officials into going along with KIPP demands. And this is the same variety of mock democratic action, which is truly a mockery of democratic action, that the Bloomberg oligarchy is using now in New York City to manufacture support through a goon squad of arm-twisting principals who are pressuring teachers and parents to support the continuation of Bloomberg's dictatorial powers over what were once the public schools of the City (see today's story from the Daily News on Bloomberg's "shock troops" strategy).

To assist in the attempt to bully Fresno Unified is, of course, the local media, as may be evidenced here in this clip from KSEE 24News where a local "newsman" goes after a school official in an interview in which the official's response to hostile questions is overlayed with video clips of chanting, marching, and sign-carrying KIPP supporters.

With billions to support a PR and media campaign to squeeze Fresno Unified into writing a letter of endorsement to the State, which would clear KIPP Fresno and KIPP, Inc. from legal liability in the abusive and illegal practices at the Fresno site, the pressure has been non-stop against the officials of Fresno Unified, and the focus has been placed on what the District will do, rather than what the abusers and lawbreakers at KIPP will do to correct the practices that were responsible for the investigation to begin with.

Fresno Unified School District, then, is to be commended for standing up the KIPP bullies with their billionaire backing from the Waltons, Fishers, Dells, Broads, Gatess, etc. Do you think that these characters need a loan from the bankrupt state of California to run their corporate welfare operation?

$25,000,000 and above
  • Doris and Donald Fisher

$10,000,000 to $24,999,999

  • The Atlantic Philanthropies
  • The Broad Family Foundation
  • The Walton Family Foundation

$5,000,000 to $9,999,999

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Robertson Foundation

$1,000,000 to $4,999,999

  • John and Laura Arnold
  • Reed Hastings and Patty Quillin
  • Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
  • Marcus Foundation
  • Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
  • Miles Family Foundation
  • New Profit Inc.
$500,000 to $999,999
  • Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

$100,000 to $499,000

  • All Stars Helping Kids
  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Anonymous
  • CityBridge Foundation
  • Thomas and Susan Dunn
  • John and Laura Fisher
  • Goldman Sachs Foundation
  • Goldsbury Foundation
  • Kinder Foundation
  • Koret Foundation
  • Steve Mandel
  • National Geographic Education Foundation
  • SAP
  • State Farm Companies Foundation
Now we find out the KIPP, Inc. has not even filed a renewal petition for its charter, even though the charter expires on June 30, 2009. After all the posturing and posing as the victim of the "public school monopoly," I would imagine that we will see KIPP fold up its corrugated building and skip town, much as they have done elsewhere when their indecent and inhumane practices have been challenged by public officials, teachers, and parents.

From the Fresno Unified School District:
REVISED 3-17-09
KIPP Fact Sheet

Revised and Additional Information – March 17, 2009

 The District issued a qualified letter of good standing to the California School Finance Authority. The letter was qualified as it represents a status report from the chartering authority. It is not an endorsement letter.

 Specifically the outstanding issues that resulted in a qualified letter are:
  • There remain some items in the original Notice to Cure that need to be corrected, most importantly the lack of credentialed teachers in all core subjects; and,
  • The 2nd Interim Budget Report does not appear to reflect all of the school’s facility liabilities. Specifically the reports do not recognize: interest payments due to the facility lender; the facility liability under multiyear commitments for future payments; and, the liability for the line of credit. District staff have provided feedback and asked that the report be corrected.
 A renewal petition for next school year has not been received. District staff offered to meet with KIPP local and Foundation staff to go over the October Report of Findings (a document designed to assist the school with the renewal process), the renewal process and requirements of the renewal petition. KIPP has declined to meet with District staff on this matter.

 County Superintendent Powell has indicated that the County is undertaking a review of the credentialing issue, including whether or not the school will need to repay funds to the State as a result of not staffing core curriculum classes with properly credentialed teachers.

 The financial issues appear resolvable with support of the KIPP Foundation. District CFO, Ruthie Quinto met with KIPP Academy Fresno’s facility lender, LIIF, on Tuesday, March 3 at 3:15 p.m. The lender indicated that they are still offering a complete refinance of the loan that is currently in default. They are offering KIPP Academy Fresno a lower interest rate and a longer repayment period if KIPP Foundation will guarantee $500,000 of the $2.5 million loan. It is unclear at this time why this option has not been acted upon. The lender has indicated that the Foundation could assist KIPP Academy Fresno in the renegotiation and act
as a guarantor of the loan.

 The Superintendent issued a letter to KIPP CEO Richard Barth (March 13, 2009), in an attempt to seek his assistance in resolving the outstanding issues. The letter was faxed to Barth on Friday, March 13, will was also sent email and US mail on Monday, March 16 to Barth, Kanberg, Highbaugh and Lin.

 District also shared a copy of the Barth letter with KIPP Academy board members to demonstrate FUSD’s continued good faith in the process.

 The District issued letters to KIPP parents (February 23 and March 2) in order to communicate accurate and timely information about the situation. District staff continued to respond to parent calls and emails including meeting with them (and members of the community) to address their concerns and to provide accurate information.

 District staff and our charter counsel have been working daily with KIPP Academy Fresno and KIPP Foundation representatives to resolve the remaining issues. In addition, District charter staff have met with the new school leader to provide information, assistance and training particularly in the area of testing and discipline policies. In addition, William Lin is scheduled to meet with Kevin Torosian this Wednesday, March 18 at 2:00 p.m.

 The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) offered to assist Fresno Unified and KIPP to resolve the remaining issues by acting in a communication facilitation role. As a result, KIPP posed a question to the District via CCSA whether or not there would be an opportunity for a letter of good standing to be issued by KIPP’s deadline of Monday, March 16 if they can demonstrate that they have cured the Notice to Cure and their financial situation. The District responded in the affirmative via CCSA. There has been no official
response from KIPP on this matter.

 At the request of the Superintendent, we are responding to the Regional Community Foundation’s offer to provide mediation for District staff and the new school leader to ensure that the relationship going forward is very positive and effective. Information Previously Published (prior to March 16)

 In the spring of 2008, the District received complaints from parents and constituents about issues occurring at the school. While the initial allegations were from parents concerned about the discipline and other practices at the school, the investigation found numerous violations of the school’s charter and state and federal laws.

 The District referred those initial complaints to the local KIPP Academy Fresno Board of Directors for investigation as a charter is expected to investigate its own complaints. However, the Board president indicated its investigation would be ineffective in dealing with the situation. The majority resigned in mass this past summer.

 Under these circumstances, as the chartering authorizer, Fresno Unified has a responsibility to ensure that charters authorized by the District follow federal and state laws and their charter, as well as to provide a safe and educational environment for the students in their care.

 The District issued the Notice to Cure and Correct report this past fall to the school following an extensive investigation into serious allegations at the school site.

 Leadership at KIPP Academy Fresno transitioned on Friday, February 20th. It is our understanding that Mr. William Lin is the new Principal.

 Parents were notified of this leadership change via a letter home on Wednesday, February 18th.

 This decision was made by the KIPP Academy Fresno Board and KIPP Foundation as part of their efforts to correct and respond to the Notice to Cure and Correct report.

 The District does have concerns about the school’s financial stability. Our concerns are as a result of numerous changes KIPP has made to several different versions of their required financial reports.

 In December, KIPP representatives told District staff that KIPP Academy Fresno would close in February 2009 as a result of lack of sufficient funds. However, when the school submitted a draft First Interim budget report the cash flow indicated that the school was sufficiently funded through June.

 As a result of this discrepancy, and the fact that the First Interim Budget Report did not accurately reflect the school’s financial obligations for the facility, District staff requested that the report be revised. The school complied.

 In addition, it is unclear to the District if KIPP has planned for the state budget cuts, which include charter schools, as part of the recently passed State Budget. The second interim report is due on March 4, 2009 and will include the impact for the current plus two years in the report.

 It is our understanding that KIPP has received a foreclosure notice on the school property. Apparently, KIPP was hopeful of receiving state facility funds (Proposition 55) to improve their financial situation. However, it is not known if the state will issue these funds, as the state will consider the charter’s financial situation prior to their release.

 KIPP is requesting a Letter of Good Standing to provide to the state in support of the Prop 55 funding request.
  • The letter would be the District’s representation to the state that the charter is in good operating order.
  • However, because the District has significant concerns about the remaining issues to be addressed in the Notice to Cure; the charter’s financial stability; and the fact a renewal petition has not been submitted, it would not be prudent for the District to issue such a letter at this time.
  • Should the charter receive the funds and subsequently not continue to possess the property for any reason, the District becomes responsible for it.
  • We confirmed (2-24-09) with the state that the Prop 55 funds have been placed on hold indefinitely. Our understanding is that at this point even with a letter of good standing, the state will not release these funds.
 The school’s charter ends this June 2009. To date the District has not received a renewal petition from KIPP.

1 comment:

  1. So- with the non-renewal of the charter, KIPP gets to play the martyr?

    Could criminal charges be in order, for the principal/staff involved or the organizational leaders who were advised of wrong doings and did not intervene? Anyone, parents or youth advocacy groups looking at this angle?