Summit Prep gets its charter from Sequoia district board

The Sequoia Union High School District board voted unanimously Wednesday to adopt the charter for Summit Preparatory High School despite widespread concern that Summit’s application did not show that the school’s student body is ethnically diverse or that its academic program is capable of serving students who are learning English or have special needs.

California law requires Summit, which has operated in Redwood City for three years, to apply for a charter with a local district. Since its inception, it has been chartered by Summerville Union High School District in Tuolumne County. Wednesday’s vote provides a two-year charter for the school.

“Clearly, Summit is a good school,” said Superintendent Patrick Gemma as he delivered his recommendation to adopt the charter. “However, the program may not be adequate to serve low-performing students.”

Summit director Diane Tavenner objected to those criticisms, saying that the district’s assessment of Summit’s programs for struggling students was based on a form showing how its graduating seniors performed. Summit won’t have its first graduating class until the spring of 2007.

Students, parents and supporters packed the boardroom in support of the charter school. “When I started at Summit, I didn’t believe in myself,” said student Sergio Fernandez. “But now I see myself going to college. The staff has never given up on me.”

Because Summit is receiving a brand-new charter, it is likely that current students will need to reapply for their spots, according to Gemma’s report. An enrollment lottery is planned for later this year.

In April, Summit got space in new portable buildings on the Sequoia High School campus to house its student body, which is projected to grow to 400 students from the 275 expected next fall.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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