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Founder of Crescendo charter schools fired [Updated]

The Crescendo charter schools board of trustees voted unanimously Friday night to fire founder and former executive director John Allen after a cheating scandal led the Los Angeles Board of Education to move this week to close down the schools.

After a closed-door meeting, the Crescendo trustees announced that they had voted 7 to 0 to terminate Allen, and the Cresendo board chair indicated there could be legal action to overturn Tuesday's decision by the L.A. school board to revoke the charter. After the cheating was uncovered, Allen was demoted from executive director but remained a top administrator at Crescendo.

Allen, who has not spoken publicly, allegedly told principals to direct teachers to break the seals on the state standardized tests and drill students on actual test questions. Allen denied the cheating had taken place until presented with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, according to Los Angeles Unified School District documents and interviews.

L.A. Unified authorized the charter, which included six campuses in south L.A., Gardena and Hawthorne. But after The Times disclosed the cheating in an article Monday, the school board voted to close down those schools.

The district staff had previously recommended that the board renew the charter for five years because they said they were satisfied that Crescendo had taken steps to deal with the cheating.

But incoming Supt. John Deasy asked the board to authorize an investigation with the possibility of a one-year renewal. Board members, led by Tamar Galatzan, went further, voting to revoke the charter.

Parents packed the Crescendo board meeting Friday, offering support for the schools and seeking recourse to keep them open.

Charters are publicly funded and independently run. Although they are mostly nonunion, Crescendo teachers recently became part of United Teachers Los Angeles.

[Updated at 9:20 p.m.: An earlier version of this post referred to Allen as Crescendo's current executive director. He was demoted to director of facilities and development after the cheating scandal.]

-- Howard Blume 

 
Comments () | Archives (14)

The only reason he was fired is because the trustees wanted to appear proactive. Too late! He should have been fired as soon as this happened.

I am a parent of a student who attends Crescendo Charter Academy and I think that the students should'nt be punished for the wrong doings of Mr. Allen. Keep the campuses open , they are excellent environment for our kids to learn !!!

I have three children who attend Crescendo Charter Conservatory, and unlike most parents at the school I don't think they are all the parents are making them out to be! Trust me if they take these same student out of the inner city and put them up against students in wealthier cities they will not do well!!!! I can't stand this Charter school and they need to be watched if they stay open!!! The school board did the right thing to shut them down!!!

I am the parent on the side of Mr. Handy. My child has been a student at Crescendo Charter Academy since kindergarten and is now in the 2nd grade.
What does the LAUSD plan to do with the students after they close these schools?
Why should these students suffer and be displaced because of the acts of this individual?
I was there and it was hard to get into the building. Inside the main hall it was standing room only and the second room was also full.
With a shooting at Gardena High this year and overcrowded schools, no books and budget problems, why would we want our children to be a part of LAUSD?
Who will be an advocate for the 1,000+ children who attend the Crescendo Schools?
My school has a waiting list of 60 children to enter this school, WHY because people are happy with LAUSD? Everybody who cares about their children wants to put their child in a magnet or charter if they have the opportunity.

And to ConcernedMom1: Where will you be sending your child now that your school is closing? If it were so bad why is your child still attending?

ALL the principals should be fired too!! They too are responsible!! They instructed their teachers to cheat! It was only AFTER the teachers blew the whistle that the principals followed suit. How can you lead with a broken moral compass?!

If this were a public school there would be an outcry, "look at how these public schools cheat!!! We need more charter schools!!!" Now that its a charter school only Allen gets fired, and you defend the school itself??? Allen didn't open the tests, the principals did. They broke the law and should be fired also.

And, thank you, concernedmom. Just because it's a charter school DOES NOT make it better. Just like it's not worse because it's a public school. As a teacher in the inner city, I am constantly getting students from charter school who have not been taught basic skills, much less what is needed to succeed in society. Furthermore, they kick out any student with learning disabilities and behavior problems. Imagine how well publis school students would be doing if we could mandate parent participation, and kick out problem children!!! And they still have to cheat to compete!?!?

whats up

Mr. Allen wasn’t fired. As the article points out, he was demoted but remains a “top administrator at Crescendo”. Which means our tax dollars, yours and mine, are being waisted on this man and charter. This was the decision made behind closed doors by the Crescendo Charter Board, and it’s worth looking into if cronyism didn’t play a part. Look at how many corrupt public employees were involved in the City of Bell scandal. (Charter employees are paid with our tax dollars, so they should be treated as public employees.) We have created a perfect storm for corruption when we created hundreds of charter schools, fed by our tax dollars.

The Crecendo Charter Board has demonstrated the lack of credibility and integrity to be trusted with the tax money. Money taken out of our paychecks, purchases, and property, which would be better spent on moral educators. Without a doubt, Mr. Allen should have been fired (not demoted with a hefty paycheck), the principals should have been fired, and many teachers should have been fired. Yes, a few teachers reported the cheating, but how many didn’t? What is the number and names of the teachers who went along with the cheating, attempting to make themselves and Crescendo look good?

As an insider, let me first state an answer to LA_Living!!! All of the teachers were proactive in letting the district know about the cheating that was to occur. There are about 80 teachers, and not all 80 teachers should call the district. Certain teachers were assigned to handle those duties, and the other teachers were in agreeance. So correction on your part, no, NONE of the teachers should be fired as NONE of teachers were for the cheating!!!! Another correction to LA_Living, Mr. Allen was in fact fired! After the incident he was demoted, and on Friday he was fired! I don't know where you are getting your facts, but as you can tell, your facts are incorrect. Know both sides to a story before you speak on it.

The charter teachers who took part in this state crime should be fired. Our states’ California Commission on Teacher Credentialing should review and possibly revoke their teaching credentials (if they have a teaching credential).

If teachers broke the seals on the test and/or taught the students the answers, they should be fired, along with the principals and administrators who were in on it. It’s not an excuse for these charter teachers to claim they were only doing what they were told by their bosses. They should have said no—a good teacher would stand up against crime, not participate. They would have been protected by laws for refusing to break the law, and protected by the threat of lawsuits against their bosses. But they choose to cheat.

For how many days did the charter teachers knowingly break the law? Did they spend several days teaching the kids to cheat? Did the crime occur multiple times over a week…weeks? The whistle blowers are the exception, if each one did so in a timely manner and not because they thought the news was breaking and they needed to save their own skins.

There’s too much systemic corruption at Crescendo Charter to let it stay in business. Parents who want the charter movement to work should fight to have this corrupt charter closed down so it stops ruining the reputation of all.

It has been said that ONLY Mr. Allen should be fired; and it has also been said that the administrators and teachers at these cheating schools should ALSO be disciplined or fired.

My question is this: Did the school principals and teachers ALSO break the law?

If the standardized test scores at these schools MAGICALLY jumped...

...And these educational professionals realized that they're NOT allowed to give the students the actual CST test questions (and yet they provided their students with the actual CST test questions), aren't they guilty as well?

And so, to those of you who say it's only one person, I would say BAH!!!

Everyone who knowingly facilitated the cheating is a part of this.


@sensibleshawnhb,

Clearly you haven't been following this story. Once again as an insider who knows what is going on, the Teachers DID NOT open or break any seals NOR did they give questions to the students before they were suppose. If you have been following this story and reading it, you would have been able to find out that information on your own. Yes, there is ONLY one person who was fired because he was the head person in charge who initiated the cheating to be done. However, instead, the TEACHERS took the information to Lausd before anything was ever used. Make sure to always read the article clearly, and follow up on cases like these before you give out false information, and opinionated comments.

@The Truth I agree with you.
I have a grand-neice that attends the location on Normandie. I talk with her to see what she is learning from day to day. I see the homework she gets on a regular basis. I hear her english improving. We play word games and she will tell me, "that is a compound word." Or I will use a word and she will tell me the definition. I ask her how do you know this? She answers, "I learned it in school, my teacher."

With all the cuts in LAUSD, larger classrooms. I am very prayful concerning the future of our youth. The last thing we need is to close these charters down.

Why are the students being punished for the actions of a grown individual? Should the children, our children have to suffer for his decisions?
Is there anything that can be done at this point, is the decision final?

I quote from a previous article: Last June, the co-founders of Ivy Academia in the west San Fernando Valley were indicted on charges of stealing $200,000. They have denied wrongdoing. In December, the founding principal of NEW Academy Canoga Park pleaded guilty to embezzling at least $1.3 million and was sentenced to five years in state prison. Both schools remain open because of their apparent academic success and popularity.

So would Allen been better off stealing the tax payers dollar$, Isn't cheating, cheating?

i can't believe that the children have to be put in this position because of one person doing, i think this school is more then just a learning place they also teach them about good manners and how to be respectful kids, im scared to take my childern and put them in a LAUSD school they are horrible and there is tooooo many children in single classroom, they need to keep the school open, its a GREAT school and as a parent i feel safe leaving then under there care.


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