Green Valley Charter School Principal Andrew Meza said it may take about six months for auditors to examine and direct where school supplies and other materials should be liquidated.
But as of Saturday, the charter school will be officially closed as its 5-year charter with the Los Banos Unified School District ends without a renewal after a high-stakes battle that ended in the courts on Wednesday.
Meza had been battling to get the school’s charter renewed for another five years after the school board denied the initial petition in February, citing low student test scores and questions about the school’s facilities and educational plans.
Those efforts, however, ended in defeat Wednesday after a Merced County judge refused to force the board to take another look at the petition.
“Obviously, we’re thankful for the support we’ve received,” Meza said Friday, adding that he was drafting a letter to the Green Valley community about the decision. “It’s just an unfortunate situation. I believe Green Valley is a school needed not just in Los Banos, but the Central Valley.”
Now, the parents of about 200 former students will need to figure out where to send their children.
Some already have been in contact with the LBUSD about enrolling their students in the area elementary and junior high schools, said Paul Enos, LBUSD assistant superintendent of secondary education.
“We have parents who came to us when they saw the writing on the wall in early Spring,” Enos said. “Over the last few months, when it started looking like the charter won’t be renewed, facilities-wise we’ve been planning for those students.”
Meza said the charter school administration for months has been educating parents about their options should the school close. He also said there was discussion among the parents in the Green Valley community to organize a new charter school. But so far, there is nothing official.
At Green Valley, students learned under the Waldorf education system, which focuses on art and creativity in learning. But Enos said he was confident that the LBUSD’s teachers and administrators were capable of working with those parents and students.
“I don’t think it’s going to be as large of an adjustment as people think it’s going to be,” Enos said. “We serve a diverse population as it is. It’s not like students coming from Green Valley are not the type of students we already have in the system.”
Green Valley had some of the lowest test scores in the Los Banos area.
That, and questions about its educational and facility plans, led to a negative recommendation by the California Charter Schools Association. The LBUSD Board of Trustees and Merced County Board of Education took that recommendation to deny a charter renewal petition and appeal.
Green Valley administrators tried again with a second petition to the LBUSD board.
However, despite a majority of the board being open to hear the second petition, Board President Anthony Parriera declined to place the second petition on the table. Parreira and the LBUSD legal counsel said that the board could not legally hear the second petition after the first denial was appealed to the county.
Meza and charter school lawyers countered, leading to a legal dispute that culminated in Merced County Judge Brian L. McCabe’s decision in favor of the LBUSD.
Parreira, who batted off criticism from the public and other board members during the last several meetings, said he felt vindicated by the ruling.
“The issue was out of our hands and jurisdiction,” Parreira said. “Basically, that’s what I was telling people.”
While Meza said the charter school is abiding by McCabe’s decision, he said the ruling didn’t hinder the LBUSD board’s ability to save the school.
“The judge never said that the board couldn’t have come together to rescind the denial and hold another vote on the new petition,” Meza said. That may have worked because a majority of the board members have said they were in favor of another hearing.
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562