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Cheating scandal at charter schools leads California association to withdraw support

The association representing California’s charter schools has withdrawn support for a group of Los Angeles-area schools that cheated on last year’s state standardized tests.

“Cheating is completely unacceptable and inexcusable in any school," wrote Jed Wallace, the chief executive of the California Charter Schools Assn., in a letter to the Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles Board of Education voted Tuesday to begin the process of revoking the charter of six schools operated by the Crescendo organization. The campuses likely would be forced to close by the end of the school year.

"We are in complete support of the LAUSD board’s decision,” Wallace wrote.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the association’s representative had supported a milder response advanced Monday by incoming L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy. That plan would have given a one-year charter extension for the two Crescendo schools nearing the end of their current charter authorization. Four other Crescendo schools, which also participated in the cheating, would not have been immediately affected.

In a story Monday, The Times disclosed that Crescendo founder and executive director John Allen had, according to school district documents and officials, ordered principals and teachers to cheat by breaking the seal on the state tests and using the actual questions to prepare students for the test.

Charter schools are independently operated but are overseen by the education agency that authorizes them. L.A. Unified has more charter schools than any school system in the country.

In an interview Monday, Wallace said he would not speculate on what should happen to a charter or its employees who were involved in cheating.

Crescendo joined the association as the cheating allegations were emerging. In the interview, Wallace said Crescendo was allowed to become an association member only because the association concluded that Crescendo had sufficiently addressed the scandal in the view of L.A. Unified.

By Tuesday’s board meeting, Deasy had adopted a harder line, calling for an investigation before a charter renewal would be considered. The school board went further, voting for a shutdown, citing both the nature of the cheating and Crescendo’s response to it, noting that no one at Crescendo had been fired.

Crescendo operates schools in South Los Angeles, Gardena and Hawthorne. A group of parents at the schools is trying to rally support to keep them open.

"We as adults do make mistakes and will possibly continue to make them, but why should our children suffer from it," said parent Carmell Demerson. Crescendo officials have declined to be interviewed.

RELATED:

L.A. school board to close six charter schools caught cheating

L.A. Unified set to renew charter contract despite evidence of cheating

-- Howard Blume 

 
Comments () | Archives (7)

What the parents need to realize is that Crescendo, not LAUSD, does not care about the kids. It was Crescendo's actions that created and caused this whole situation. Parents, teachers, students, and principals were all put at risk when the cheating was mandated by the director. I do feel sorry for the students because they are innocent victims, but the nature of charter schools creates incentives to cheat, steal, and mismanage. With teachers and administrators having no union protections, directors and CEOs can operate under the radar, with little or no danger of being caught. Lack of oversight and of appropriate consequences within LAUSD has lead to a "PERFECT STORM" of rampant criminal behavior.

Maybe the reporting of this fiasco will encourage others to come forward with their own experiences. Remember, until the Times reported this, LAUSD's Gutierrez and the Charter School Division were recommending a full five year renewal for these schools.

Are they going to close all of the non charter schools where cheating occurs or is this just a bone to the teachers union?

This is the problems with the charter school system... too many good reasons to cheat to attract more money.

And this is what happens when people feel pressured to improve something which they have little control over.

How sad that a parent is excusing the cheating of these schools- Doesn't she realize that her kids are most likely not getting a good education if the be all and end all is a result on a multiple choice test score? And by the way, it wasn't a mistake, it was a deliberate choice

The California Charter Schools Association was silent when this issue first came to light. CCSA was silent when the Cresendo board took minimal action in response to the cheating. CCSA was silent when LAUSD staff recommend renewing the Crescendo charter. CCSA was silent when the Times broke this story last week.

CCSA takes a stand today only because their annual conference starts on Monday. Crescendo is their inconvenient truth.

cheating within the school system is a very bad example for all students and it needs to be rectified. Hopefully this situation can be resolved quickly and fairly.


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