Charter schools, district at odds

The Sequoia Union High School District has run afoul of two charter schools within its boundaries in recent weeks, leading charter school officials to question the district’s stance toward such schools.

Summit Preparatory High School, whose charter was adopted by the Sequoia District in May, requested a five-year extension of its charter at the end of October. Although districts are required to hold public hearings on such requests within 30 days, the board has not yet publicly considered the petition, according to Summit Prep Director Diane Tavenner.

Meanwhile, the Sequoia board voted Wednesday to ask the California Department of Education, which holds the charter for Redwood City’s High Tech High Bayshore, to adjust the school’s charter so Sequoia will no longer have to pay $1.5 million a year for charter students who live within the district’s boundaries.

“Our position is that the state erred in the way it approved High Tech High Bayshore’s charter,” board member Gordon Lewin said. Lewin said state officials amended the school’s old charter — which was with the San Mateo County Department of Education — when they should have created a new charter.

High Tech High’s three San Diego campuses have not had any legal problems with the local school district, according to Chief Operating Officer Jed Wallace.

“It’s nothing against the school at all,” Lewin said.

Tavenner, however, is wary.

“This could potentially be indicative of an attitude toward charter schools,” she said. “We’ve worked hard to have a partnership with them.”

That is one reason she is concerned by the fact that Summit’s charter extension request has gone unanswered.

But Lewin said the request is in the hands of the district’s legal team.

“There is no response yet. Our next board meeting is Dec. 6, and if it was going to be considered, it would be considered at that meeting,” Lewin said.

Sequoia District officials also continue to hunt for a permanent home for Summit, whose students are housed in a cluster of portable classrooms on the Sequoia High School campus in Redwood City. Many potential sites — including one at Cañada College — were ruled out because they didn’t meet seismic or other standards, including toxicity and placement under local airports’ flight paths, according to Ed LaVigne, the district’s business official.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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