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

Friday, February 11, 2011

Documented KIPP Abuser to Speak Sunday at TFA Conference: "Bringing the 'Joy Factor' into Your School"


During the 2007-2008 school year, California’s Office of Child and Protective Services notified Fresno Unified School District, the charter authorizer for KIPP Fresno, that a student at KIPP Fresno had threatened suicide following a punishment administered by KIPP Fresno’s out-of-control CEO, Chi Tschang.  It seems that Mr. Tschang did not bother to notify the parents of the threat.

And thus began an lengthy investigation by Fresno Unified School District, which culminated in a 64 page “Notice to Cure and Correct Violations,” a document that recounts in harrowing detail the abusive punishments between 2004 and 2008, all of which were authorized or personally meted out by Mr. Tschang. READ THE CALIFORNIA REPORT.

Below is a slightly-updated version of a series of four posts that appeared here at Schools Matter during March 2009, when the story finally broke into the Fresno Bee, to be contained there and never to be picked up by the AP, the New York Times, or other national media outlets, any of which would have been all over the story with 72 point font if these events had occurred in a public school, rather than in one of corporate “stores” operated by the corporate-sanctioned educational solution for the poor—KIPP.

The reason I am offering up this collection of posts is to remind the world that, even though KIPP Fresno was shuttered in May 2009 and Mr. Tschang resigned from KIPP Fresno in February 2009, the Tschang story is not over.  Despite his punitive ministrations that, according to the Report, included making children bark like a dog, taking children’s eye glasses from them, making children stand out in the cold for hours, picking up children and dropping them on the floor, isolating children, screaming at children, emotionally-abusing children, making children stand in the sun for 2 hours during the summer, telling children to put their “ugly face toward the wall, and, otherwise, going “beyond the bounds of the law” (Notice to Cure and Correct, p. 8)—despite all this and more, as recounted below, Mr. Tschang will be presenting a session this coming Sunday morning at the Teach for America Conference in D.C.  Accompanied by  CEO, Doug McCurry, of Achievement First Schools, Inc. this dynamic duo's session is entitled Bringing the “Joy Factor” Into Your School. 

Co-CEO McCurry has become the chief protector of Mr. Tschang during this period of transition from KIPP goon to Achievement First goon.  Indeed, Achievement First has hired Mr. Tschang as a principal in one of Achievement First’s Brooklyn operations, Achievement First Crown Heights—despite complaints by parents of physical and emotional abuse of children there in Crown Heights by Mr. Tschang in Mr. Tschang’s school.  

When you're trying to out-KIPP KIPP, having one of KIPP's former over-exuberant commandants can be a real asset, I suppose. With support now of Teach for America, Mr. Tschang will likely continue to “bring joy” to the children of these corporate-run cultural eugenics centers for as long as the American people sanction this form of child abuse for the poor. 

KIPP Fresno Horror Story: Part 1

The KIPP Fresno story has disappeared from media coverage, except for McEwen's continued editorializing the news section of the Fresno Bee, where he has repeatedly painted this horror as a minor incident resulting from disgruntled parents or former employees. The facts, some of which are presented below in this Part I, demonstrate that this is not the case.

For reasons that are becoming increasingly clear, the KIPP Fresno scandal never got any coverage beyond a few stories in the local media. If a public school had the documented case against it that KIPP Fresno has garnered through its ethical breaches, abusive practices, and violations of the law, the national media and cable news would have had a feeding frenzy. But, then, the oligarchs see KIPP as the solution to the 21st Century "minority problem," and the corporate media is that corporate message.
Even so, reading the lengthy "Notice to Cure and Correct Violations" issued by the chartering authority offers a case study in how an organizational culture that encourages any means to achieve its ends of behavioral transformation and high test scores, combined with a lack of Board authority, has created a monstrous form of penal schooling that is about to be unleashed on urban America, if the misanthropic oligarchy gets its way.

In April, May, and June 2008, parents of children attending KIPP Academy Fresno Charter School filed multiple complaints with the Fresno Unified School District about practices at the school. Even though the District passed the complaints to the KIPP Board to investigate, the Board had no authority to demand answers or to make personnel changes and, therefore, advised the District to take charge of the investigation. Following an investigation, a 64 page Notice to Cure and Correct report was issued on December 11, 2008.

Below are some of the findings from that Report:

           During the 2004-2005 school year, Johnny Nellum of the NAACP visited KIPP Fresno following complaints by parents regarding disciplinary actions against students by Chi Tschang, the CEO of the school. Tschang was counseled by the District for inappropriate behavior at that time. Other allegations of student mistreatment followed, however, and a meeting between the KIPP Foundation , Mr. Tschang, and the District took place.
 
           At the urging of the Charter School Development Center in 2005-2006, a Parent Handbook was finally developed that outlined discipline policies and parent complaint procedures.
 
           During the 2006-2007 school year, the KIPP Board received training from the District regarding its roles and responsibilities. During the 07-08 school year, complaints against the CEO, Mr. Tschang continued. After calling for Mr. Tschang's resignation, the KIPP Board was told by KIPP, Inc. that the Board had no authority to demand Mr. Tschang's resignation. The Board resigned shortly thereafter.

           Based on concerns for student" psychological and emotional health," the District offered KIPP Fresno's staff training to deal with emotional and psychological problems. CEO Tschang refused. (The reader should keep in mind that KIPP prefers to hire teachers who have not completed teacher education programs where they are routinely required to take courses in child development and psychology).

           The culminating complaint in 07-08 came when Child and Protective Services notified the District that a child who had recently undergone one of Mr. Tschang's punishments had subsequently threatened suicide. Mr. Tschang had failed to notify the parents of the child.

Some of the violations in the Report:

I. Student Discipline and Punishment
2004-2005 Twelve separate allegations

Examples:
1. In her interview Kia Spenhoff stated that she witnessed Mr. Tschang put his hands on students. She witnessed Mr. Tschang pick up a student off the ground, hold the student by the neck against a wall, and then drop the student. When asked about this incident Mr. Tschang stated, "I don't remember picking up and dropping a student, I do remember shaking a kid."

6. __________ also reported witnessing Tschang push another student's face against the wall and saying, " Put your ugly face against the wall, I don't want to see your face."

10. Student __________ reported witnessing Mr. Tschang draw a circle on the ground and force a student to stand in the circle for two hours in the sun during the summertime.

12. __________, a student at KIPP from 2004 to 2007, stated that in the 04-05 term he saw Mr. Tschang pick students up and drop them. If a student wasn't sitting correctly he would pick them up by their shirt, move the chair, and drop them on the floor.

2005-2006 Seven separate allegations
Examples:
3. Vincent Montgomery, former Chief Operating Officer for the school, reported that he observed several incidents in which he felt Chi Tschang was emotionally abusive toward students, such as requiring students to stand outside in the rain. Mr. Montgomery also stated he felt any gains made by kids were offset by the emotional abuse they experienced.

4. Richard Keyes made a comment to Mr. Tschang that he thought Mr. Tschang needed training in child growth and development because there were things going on that were psychologically damaging.

5. Students stated in an interview that Mr. Tschang would make kids stand in the sun while he yelled at them, and that _________ had to stand there for an hour.

2006-2007
1. Marcella Mayfield witnessed Mr. Tschang grab a backpack off of a student and then repeatedly kick it.

2007-2008 Eight Separate Allegations
Examples:
2. In December 2007 the police reported several students for shoplifting at a ______ store. As punishment, Mr. Tschang had them sit at their desks outside in the cold for two days. Diane Gutierrez, an employee at the Charter School, stated that Mr. Tschang took away their shoes on one day to let them know how it feels to have something taken away form them. Marcella Mayfield stated that it was bitterly cold in December and the students were only allowed to wear sweatshirts. She also stated that Mr. Tschang screamed at the students during the entire day. She told this investigation, "I lost count how many times he could be heard from the classroom. When there was a quiet spell in the class, you could hear him outside screaming at them."

5. Diana Gutierrez stated in her interview that Mr. Tschang raged and screamed at students on several occasions. She stated the he: "has thrown backpacks belonging to students in a manner that the contents fell out. he has grabbed papers out of students' hands and yelled at them. He yells at students right in their faces. The children are so afraid of him that they do not want to look at him. He will just yell louder and say things like 'Look at me,' 'Listen to me,' and "What's wrong with you?' 'Do you want me to kick you out of school?'

8. Former Board member Steve Hopper stated that Mr. Tschang was so focused on peer accountability that he would lose track of the moment. Mr. Hopper said, "when he yells or throws books, and you confront him, he calls it 'strategic.'"

The above examples are from the first of 10 separate categories of violations listed in the Report. Subsequent posts will offer examples of other breaches in the other nine categories: Board Composition, Credentialing, Criminal Background Checking, State Mandated Testing, Right to Privacy, Transporting Students Off Campus, Copyright, Failure to Report Child Sexual Abuse.


KIPP Fresno Part 2: Questionable Leadership Ability 

Mr. Tschang's and others' actions exceeded the bounds of the law. --Notice to Cure and Correct, p. 8

I received an email this morning from a source who suggested that the atrocities at KIPP Fresno represent the "tip of an iceberg" in terms of crimes against children in the KIPP brainwashing camps. The source wishes to remain anonymous out of fear of ending up on a "KIPP hit list."

The following excerpts of the District Report, Notice to Cure and Correct are from pages 8-21:

Kia Spenhoff witnessed Mr. Tschang put a garbage can on a student's head. Mr. Tschang admitted to putting a garbage can over a student's head because the student, _________, had been clowning around. The lesson was, "If you want to act like a clown then you'll look like a clown." The student was required to pick up all the trash Tschang dumped out of the trash can. . . .

A 5th grade class had their behavior tested by being left unattended in the cafeteria where a video camera recorded their actions. Tschang told the investigator that this was an exercise to ask the students the question, "What are you doing when no one is watching? . . . .

Vincent Montgomery was the Charter School COO from February 2005 to April of 2006. He told investigators that T would ask him why the school was losing so much money on the school lunch program and instructed Mr. Montgomery to count students as present whether they were there or not. Mr. Montgomery disagreed because he thought that this practice was illegal. Mr. Montgomery also complained to Tschang about the lack of due process in Tschang 's decision-making in whether to throw students out of school. Mr. Montgomery said that the staff would have weekly teacher and administration meetings and would vote on whether to keep a student or ask them to leave, and did not involve the Board in the process. Mr. Montgomery reported that before he left the Charter School he called KIPP Foundation to tell them about the problems he had with Tschang but his calls were never returned.

Allegations that Tschang constantly yelled at students occurred frequently. Chris Fraser, a teacher who taught at the Charter School during the 2007-2008 term, stated, "I often hear, or observed, Tschang yelling at some student or other about some infraction from talking, to chewing gum, to not having a book while waiting in line at the bathroom, or because of some perceived disrespect. His yells were not simply talking loud, he was yelling at the singled-out student and doing so publicly." . . . .

Kia Spenhoff also reported that she had personally heard Tschang yelling at kids, "and using profanity. He and a few other teachers have used words to make the kids feel bad about themselves, not just what they have done." Ms. Spenhoff also recalled an incident in the 2007-2008 school year where Tschang yelled at a student in front of prospective parents.

She stated, " Tschang had a student in his office and he was yelling obscenities and screaming at the child so loudly that the new parents were looking at each other in disbelief. I recall I was in the office and I walked across the office and closed the door to the office. You could still hear him. I don't believe that those parents send [sic] their child to KIPP. I don't remember any particular words just the feeling of being uncomfortable. Also feeling a bit embarrassed that our Principal would speak in such a way to a child, let alone while new parents were in the office."

When asked about the yelling at students, Tschang stated, "If parents are not happy with the school program, it is a school of choice. They are free (and indeed, encouraged) to remove their kids from the school. There are plenty of other public school options for their children." . . . .

[Following the shoplifting incident in which several students were reported stealing food from a local market]. . . . Tschang wrote an email to the teachers and staff outlining his response to the shoplifting:

         Dear staff,

This evening, I received a call from the local police. Apparently, several of our students who take the bus home have been going to the _______________ and stealing food from it in a group. I understand that this has been going on for about a month.

1) Starting tomorrow, here is our follow up plan:

Transportation--These students have ZERO TRUST. They will not be allowed to take the city bus to or from KIPP this year. Their parents MUST drop them off and pick them up from the cafeteria everyday [sic] after school.

2) Isolation--For the time being, everyone in this group will be in TOTAL ISOLATION during the school day. This looks like sitting apart from other students in class and never communicating to peers; sitting in isolation during lunch with the advisory group and never communicating to peers; sitting in isolation during PE.

3) Restitution--Everyone in this group (and their families) will pay ______ back everything they took. . . .

Marcella Mayfield witnessed the punishment of the students by Tschang and stated that when she was in the office,

" Tschang was walking in with one of the _______________. He started screaming at the top of his lungs 'You embarrassed the school, and what the hell were you thinking?' Those are the words I remember, but he was yelling other comments too. What I do remember, or what I was impacted by was that I had never heard an adult scream at a child like that. The outburst caused me become frozen solid, like I didn't want to breath, and I felt it was extremely frightening." Ms. Mayfield also stated that for the first day of isolation, "During the entire day he would be screaming and yelling at the children off an on. I lost count of how many times he could be heard from the classroom." _______ was one of the students who was caught shoplifting, and she stated that on one of the days they were being punished Tschang told her and her sister, "Oh, you and your sister are going to the barber shop." When they asked why, Tschang responded, "Because you are going to get your head shaved."

When asked about this incident, Tschang stated, " The next day [after the shoplifting incident] one of the 7th grade students came in with his head shaved and ________ asked, 'What should I do with my girls?' I responded, ' This is what another family did, maybe you should try that.' She was asking for ideas and so I gave her one."

. . . . ___________ mother of two of the students caught shoplifting, received a call from CPS [Child Protective Services] a few days after the school punishment that her daughter _____ had made a suicidal threat at school. _______ said, "My first thought was, 'why hasn't he [Tschang] called me?'" When asked about the incident, Tschang first stated that he did not remember the incident, but then stated that in situations like this, "We could call FUSD, and they would advise us what to do; which I did in this case." . . . .

A common complaint from students was that teachers were not letting students go the bathroom. Student ______ reported that there was a student in Ms. Sosa's class who urinated in his pants because he was not allowed to use the restroom. Student ______ who started with the Charter School in 2004 and just graduated in 2008, stated, "They would not let us use the bathroom during classes. Parents heard about this and they had to have a meeting to get hem to allow us this, to allow us to go to the bathrooms." . . . .

Former teacher Laura Allen stated, "we did encourage them to hold it when possible so as no to miss instruction. Accidents of this type did not happen to my students, but other students had accident [sic] because they said they could hold it, but couldn't, or they would go to the bathroom and because of the line, they could not make it." . . . .

Several former employees reported that Tschang has issues with older teachers. Diana Gutierrez stated that Tschang "recently make a remark that he was hiring just young and inexperienced teachers for next year so they could learn the KIPP way." Chris Frazer stated that when discussing a teaching position with Tschang at the school, Tschang says he didn't hire older people because they tended not to work very hard. Mr. Frazer reported that Tschang went further and said that the school had a young culture and that Mr. Frazer would not fit in. In regard to these remarks, Tschang responded that he did not say that he hired only young teachers, but "It is true that we have young staff culture filled with committed teachers who routinely work over 60 hours a week. Often, older teachers are not able to maintain this kind of pace." . . . .

Several students stated that students are not allowed to talk or socialize at all during school hours. when asked about this policy, Tschang stated, "If parents are not happy with the school program, it is a school of choice. . . ."

. . . .The staff was administering over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, visine, and that spray to students. Tschang said that every year parents fill out a medical form stating that they would agree to allow office personnel to administer these medications to the students, but that he discontinued the practice last year. . . .

Student ________ said that in December of 2007, Tschang told him to get on his hand and knees and bark like a dog. ________ said that it was metaphor to get him to stop joking around in class. _________, guardian of _________, also alleged that in the summer of 2007, Tschang got upset at ______ for asking to call ________, took his cell phone, threw it, and told ______ to, "go fetch it." _________ confronted Tschang about the incident and he said Tschang stated it was, "my school and I run it the way I want it run."

Tschang replied to this incident, " He was being defiant to a teacher prior to this. The teacher sent for me. He asked if he could use the phone to call his guardian and I threw it and said fetch. Parent complained why are you treating my child like a dog? I said, 'Then why is he acting like a dog?'" . . . .

Student ________ reported that students were called "gay" and "ignorant," and that teachers said things like, "Go change your diapers, you're acting like a 2-year old." . . . .

Parent ___________ reported that Tschang took student ___________ glasses away from him because _____ was constantly adjusting his glasses. __________ is totally dependent on his glasses and cannot see without them. Tschang admitted to taking _________ glasses away. . . .

_________ also reported that Tschang left a student named ______ on the side of the road 3 to 4 miles from school at 7:10 a.m. and she walked to school alone. Tschang admitted that he was giving ______a ride to school every day and that one day she was misbehaving. Tschang said he dropped her off at the corner of Martin Luther King and Church, half a block from the school.

KIPP Fresno Part 3: State Mandated Testing Violations by CEO and Staff
Two areas that KIPP supporters like to talk about are the test scores and the college attendance rates of graduates.

. . . .

The investigation determined that the Charter School failed to administer all state and national tests for grades five through 8 as determined by the state and national testing schedule, according to regulations established by the state, to ensure the security and integrity of test and assessment questions and materials for the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 STAR testing sessions. . . .
15 particulars cited. Examples:

1. In 2006, completed state tests were stored in a location where students and parents had access to the tests. Two of the . . . former teachers, Kim Kutzner and Marcella Mayfield, stated that they witnessed violations of the testing procedures.
            a. They stated that tests were not placed in a secure environment.

            b. State tests were stacked in boxes around the school's office, tests were not returned promptly by teachers after the closing of that day's testing, and tests were left in classrooms, their principal's office and the school's office. . . .

6. Kim Kutzner an Marcella Mayfield stated that the school adopted a policy that students were required to check their answers again and again after they had finished their tests and were not allowed to do other activities.

7. Ms. Kutzner also witnessed teachers record students' answers during testing, review student's tests, and tell students which page to correct.

8. Chi Tschang [subsequently referred to as T], as the test site coordinator for 2006, also admitted that in a couple of cases, teachers forgot to bring tests back . . . .

10. In a staff meeting in May of 2006, Ms. Kutzner, who had five years experience as a test site coordinator, reviewed with the entire staff the violations that she had witnessed during testing and presented the written testing protocol materials to T. The staff actively opposed any changes in procedures which would potentially lower test scores, and T and Mr. Hawke stated that the legal and ethical requirements for testing were, in fact, only guidelines that could be ignored. . . ..

15. The violations were knowingly in disregard of state testing procedures in that T signed the STAR Test Security Agreement and the Charter School's teachers signed the STAR Test Security Affidavit in which they agreed to the conditions designed to ensure test security. T also failed to report the testing irregularities to the District STAR Coordinator. 


KIPP Fresno Part 4: Will the City and State Cave to the Oligarchs? 

The KIPP Fresno horrors offer a chance to view up close the "fierce" kind of schooling that the oligarchs are calling for as the final reform spearhead that, unfortunately, must travel through the heads and bodies of innocent children in order to approach the presumed target, defective culture. KIPP represents the culmination of the conservative and neo-liberal No Excuses antidote to what Ronald Reagan viewed as an overdose of civil rights during the 60s and 70s.

For those smug and secure in their belief that poor children must pay the price for their own poverty, it is to be the KIPPs and the KIPP knock-offs that will finally force the shiftless and poor urban dwellers to pay with their children's well-being for what they thought they were given through Civil Rights legislation forty-five years ago. KIPP is aimed at becoming the ultimate accountability tool, the final hazing, the perfect soul extraction device, the final filter applied before guarded entry is granted into the ultimate gated community of the shrinking middle class.

From the "Notice to Cure and Correct":

Suspension and Suspension Procedures
Investigation Determined:

. . . . that throughout the school years from 2004 to 2008, the Charter School failed to abide by the California Education Code grounds and procedures for suspension of students as stated in California Education Code 48900 et. seq.

Examples:
. . . . Ms. Kutzner stated that she saw ______ was left outside without supervision for three hours for a minor infraction that occurred during breakfast.

Kim Kutzner also witnessed students being forced to stay in small rooms near the school's office for hours or even entire days without supervision.

Ms. Kutzner stated that parents of suspended students were frequently not notified of the suspensions.

Ms. Kutzner stated that students were routinely sent home for non-serious offenses like talking in class, chewing gum, and bringing a mechanical pencil to school.

She also stated that students were routinely transported from school without their parents being notified.

. . . .In April of 2008, student ________ was in supervised, isolated suspension for three weeks for inappropriately touching another student.

. . . .________ was suspended indefinitely for sexual assault, and the suspension was never brought to the attention of the Board.

Board Composition
The investigation determined that the Charter School failed to have not more than 49% of the Charter School's Board of Directors be compensated by the school for services rendered to it within the previous 12 months.

Credentialing
The investigation determined the Charter School failed to assign teachers who hold appropriate California teaching credentials, permits, or other documents issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, to teach core curriculum classes.

Criminal Background Checks
The investigation determined that the Charter School failed to require each faculty and staff member to undergo a criminal background check and fingerprinting conducted by the local police department and the FBI, as well as a child-abuse registry check.

Right to Privacy
The investigation determined hat the Charter School disclosed students' information, including addresses and phone numbers, without informing parents about the existence of a directory or providing reasonable time to request information not be disclosed in a directory in violation of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) 20 USCA 1232g. Further, Mr. Tschang invaded students' and parents' privacy through his disciplinary methods.

Example:
_________ was a student who was disciplined for inappropriately touching another student. Mr. Tschang used what happened to _____ as an example to another student who inappropriately touched a female student. ______ stated that , "He wanted me to talk to him and tell him what consequences he might face afterward. He told me to tell ____ about my situation. He wanted me to tell him what the parents call me: sexual predator, a nasty kid, and a pervert." Mr. Tschang responded to this by saying, "The reasoning is that we look out for each other at our school, and we learn from each other's mistakes . . . the older student was passing on advice to the younger student about his mistakes made." When discussing the incident, ______stated that, " It made me feel uncomfortable, but I only did it so I could go back to class. I also felt betrayed by Mr. Tschang and used. I was an example."

KIPP Bullying Tactics Against Fresno Unified School District Failed
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 overlaid 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.

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.



May 13, 2009
KIPP Abuse Will Not Continue, At Least Not in Fresno 

Any KIPP school is doomed that does not polish the public relations image that is so carefully projected nationally in order to sell urban parents on replacement of public schools with the no excuses cage schooling of the cheap KIPP knockoffs. KIPP Fresno, which faced ethical, legal, and moral challenges following an investigation by Fresno Unified, has decided to pull the plug. For a history of the case, go here and read posts from the bottom up.

A single newspaper, if you want to call the Fresno Bee a newspaper, has reported the closing, even though the reporter did not mention the moral meltdown that eventually assured the shuttering of this bad news site that threatened to further stain the chimerical image that the Oligarchs' PR machines have produced.

It is not at all surprising the KIPP board would blame Fresno Unified for KIPP's own refusal to submit the necessary paperwork to renew its charter. From the local ABC affiliate:

           By Gene Haagenson
Fresno, CA (KFSN) -- Three of the schools five board members came to a meeting Tuesday night to explain the school's plight to parents and students. With apparent regret, the board voted to close the KIPP Academy. Board Director Steve Gile called for the vote.

"This is going to be a roll call vote. Dr. Chong ... I vote to close. Dr. Jones, I vote to close. I vote to close as well. Motion's carried 3 zero."

A few parents argued the school needed to keep on fighting. But the board members said the situation was hopeless. In addition to KIPP's financial troubles, the previous administration had failed to draw up plans for the schools continued operation. Those plans needed to be presented to Fresno Unified for approval, this week and board members said there was not the time or money to get it done.

. . . .

The KIPP Academy opened in 2004. One of 60 such schools across the country. But early this year, the Principal Chi Tschang resigned amid allegations he mistreated students. . . .


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:29 PM

    It is interesting to observe the members of the KIPP culture. After speaking with some former "KIPPsters" I began wondering it the organization was founded by David Koresh. Several components of the KIPP social dynamic resemble cult activity. This includes faculty sacrifice, low wages, extended hours, devotion to the "vision," strict adherence, to corporate policy, pressuring faculty and parents into social and political action, etc.

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