Parents and and supporters of Green Valley Charter School are continuing their push to save the school after seeing the Los Banos Unified School District Board narrowly vote against extending its charter.
More than a dozen people stood near the school district’s office Friday and in front of the school Monday, holding signs that urged the board to allow the school to continue.
The board voted 4-3 vote on Feb. 9 to deny a renewal of Green Valley’s charter. The vote followed the recommendation of the California Charter Schools Association, which deemed Green Valley a “low-performing” school based on its evaluations and test scores.
But while the picket line of supporters Friday attempted to spread awareness of Green Valley’s situation, confusion has set in on whether the LBUSD board can reverse its decision.
Green Valley Principal Andrew Meza sent a new petition of renewal to the school district Friday, claiming it has addressed some of the district’s concerns leading to the school board’s vote.
Green Valley supporters have said the low scores don’t tell the whole story of student success.
They say the 5-year-old school needs more time for improvement to reflect in state test scores, and that the data doesn’t show how the Waldorf-style education positively affected their kids.
The Waldorf system focuses on integrating art and creativity to enrich students’ learning experience, according to the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America website.
In an interview with the Los Banos Enterprise on Friday, LBUSD board President Anthony Parreira said legal counsel told him the school district’s decision on Green Valley was final.
Over the weekend, however, Meza countered Parreira’s claim in an email to the Enterprise, stating, “The (LBUSD) board has the right to vote on a new petition, which is what we gave them.”
According to Meza, if the LBUSD doesn’t change its decision, Green Valley can apply for a charter with the Merced County Office of Education. If the county doesn’t accept the petition, the school can take its charter renewal to the state, Meza said.
“Obviously, we want to work with the Los Banos school district because they were our original authorizer,” Meza said Friday. “The appeal process is if they don’t accept the petition, we will send it to the county.”
Meza said Green Valley administrators also have reached out to new U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who has been a strong proponent of charter schools. They have not received a response.
Parreira on Tuesday maintained the school district’s decision was final.
“We have a lawyer that specializes in charter schools,” Parreira said. “He told us our action was final, that the education code is specific in saying that if a local district denies a petition, the process of appeal is to the county office of education school board.”
Meza couldn’t be reached for a response Tuesday.
Despite the conflicting information, Green Valley parents and supporters continued to rally, contacting local media to tell their student success stories at the charter school.
Holding a sign that read “Green Valley Charter: Our School of Choice” on Friday, Los Banos resident Aundre Garcia told the Enterprise that her fifth-grade daughter was an excellent student at Green Valley but struggled on the new state tests.
“The school brings creativity and imagination to life for students,” Garcia said.
Christina Curiel stood outside the district office with her 4-year-old son, Abraham Godinez, who wants to join his older sister as a kindergartener next year.
Curiel said her daughter was bullied by other students in the school system. So Curiel enrolled her in Green Valley.
“It felt like a family to her,” Curiel said. “We just want to be given a choice.”
Parents held a second rally outside Green Valley and talked with a Spanish-language television network about the charter renewal, said Paula Chavez, president of the nonprofit fundraising committee for Green Valley.
“Everyone seems very supportive and positive and willing to fight until it’s over,” Chavez said, adding that parents plan to attend the next LBUSD board meeting March 9.
“We said this is our children’s school,” she said. “We’re not giving up.”
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562