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L.A. Unified board votes to shut down charter schools accused of cheating

The Los Angeles Board of Education voted to shut down six charters schools that were accused of widespread cheating on last year's standardized tests.

The executive director of the six schools, operated by the Crescendo organization in South Los Angeles, Gardena and Hawthorne, had ordered principals and teachers to prepare students for the exams using the actual test questions. Several teachers at the schools had blown the whistle on the alleged cheating.

District staff had previously recommended re-authorizing the charter schools for another five years, citing the schools' strong test results, including on last year's tests, which the state has thrown out. District staff also cited actions taken by Crescendo's leadership to address the cheating allegations. On Monday, that recommendation was revised by incoming Supt. John Deasy, who asked the board to authorize an investigation, after which he would decide whether to ask for a one-year renewal.

The Times disclosed the cheating on Monday.

School board president Monica Garcia said the campuses' high scores could not be relied on as a valid measure of the schools. Board member Tamar Galatzan pushed hardest for an immediate revocation, saying the schools should not be given another chance.

Crescendo officials declined comment, but before the vote they defended the academic success of the schools, as did two parents.

The revocation process may take several months, likely allowing the school to continue operating through the end of the year.

Charter schools are independently owned and operated but are publicly funded and authorized and supervised by local education agencies, such as L.A. Unified.  

RELATED:

Editorial: How low does a school have to go for L.A. Unified to close it?

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

-- Howard Blume

 
Comments () | Archives (26)

Good move since they were going to approve the Charter before the Times shed light on the charter. It should be of note since so many are working on turning teachers into scapegoats for every problem we have today: It was "teachers" who blew the whistle on this. It should be noted as well that charters receive our tax dollars just like public schools do without the same requirements.

I like the charter school idea as a viable alternative to monolithic school districts. And I wouldn't be surprised if there was some anti-charter school bias feeding the decision for some of the LAUSD board members.

But, the Board made the right decision here. Corrective action is appropriate in some cases. But these were egregious ethical lapses. The executive director clearly lacks integrity; he not only systematically instructed teachers to cheat, but he also instructed them to lie about it when asked and indeed lied about it himself.

There is no opportunity for corrective action in cases like this.

Charters are generally a scam.

I guess LAUSD will shut itself down too? How LOW can they go?

that charter school thing is working out GREAT!

charter schools are just a business!

I'm glad to see the board of ed had the courage to do what LAUSD staffers would not do.

I knew it. There is too much at stake to blindly trust significant increases in test scores. It's just a matter of time before more almighty schools fall from grace.

"School board president Monica Garcia said the campuses' high scores could not be relied on as a valid measure of the schools." Why not? You want to use such scores for the rest of the district and to evaluate teachers.

Good. Deliberate, systematic cheating is unforgivable. It says something that the director thought it was necessary to cheat to boost the students' exam scores. Could it be that those schools aren't the "magic bullet" that some people believe them to be?

Honestly, do you think those are the only schools? LAUSD students are being tested non-stop, let's see OCR assessments (5 plus end of the year assessment), Math quarterly assessments (4), New Language Arts Diagnostic tests (4) maybe more, science tests (3), Physical Fitness test, CST just in the 5th grade. Are teachers teaching to the test? Ask yourself??? When are teachers teaching skills?

Using the actual test questions or permission by the instructor for students to use their own "cheat sheet",or note card full of possible questions and answers, can reinforce learning according to some experts in the fields of education and psychology. Some junior college professors have allowed for cheat sheets during tests or final tests. The test was comprised of important questions. Students learn through repetitive question and answer.

The LAUSD wants a larger piece of the pie (education funding)

Recall in "Stand Up and Deliver" with Jaime Escalantes, a South American scientist/teacher at a East Los Angeles high school. In a inter-school math competition, Mr Escalantes class did excellent. Officials alleged that cheating was involved so the class repeated the exam. The class passed for a second time.

I say keep the Charter school they still are out performing the LAUSD. LAUSD need to be shut down and "clean house" the test scores and rate of graduation is very low. But the Teachers union want to protect the Teacher salaries and benefits but they are not producing a good product! It is all so sad.

It is unbelievable that Dr. John Deasy, the incoming superintendent, is still considering these schools to operate within LAUSD! With this type of thinking I have lost a great lot of confidence in him. We need strong leaders with progressive thinking not mediocre ones. I am glad that the LAUSD Board had more common sense.

The union assault on competition heats up. Anything that threatens the unions monopoly over your childrens future and the funds that are spent will be destroyed.

This type of cheating is caused by basing a school or teacher's value solely on multiple-choice test scores. These exams often inadvertently contain questions that are culturally biased or fail legitimate approaches to evaluating literature or historical events. Only a corrupt charlatan would require teachers to run the kids through questions on an impending State-mandated test in order to inflate scores so the school looks good in front of the public. Good Lord! These students' minds can't be accurately measured by one stinking test no matter how big it is. Safe to say the honchos at Crescendo failed a test of character. They better go to a Michael Josephson seminar: Character Counts!

District staff who had "previously recommended reauthorizing the charter schools on the basis of strong test results" should be embarassed and most likely fired. Absolutely ridiculous.

Is this the only school or is this rampant throughout the State levels and protected by the bureaucracy? From what I have fought, and investigated on own, they do not consider fraud, misrepresentations or omissions as criminal but acceptable process in anything that serves their purpose. The State of California must investigate the billion in bonds, the State Department of Education, school district boards etc,

The investigation and punishment must include all parties including principals, teachers and not just test results. These schools are funded annually on number of students days and results of alleged fraud assures them continued funding.

If Governor Brown wants to reduce the deficit then the California Department of Education practices is where I would begin. As a former business analyst I am amazed at the non-confrontetional questioning and attitude of the organization. I would love to analyze these guys!

Good job, now they need to start looking into alot more charters for doing the same thing. Rumors have been around for years that several charters walk the students through the test and help them take the test, and also provide them with the test before hand to study the questions.

Thankfully the board did their duty as holders of the public trust (they're called trustees after all) and voted to close the charter. The governing boards of charters are not publicly elected, and therefore are not accountable to the public whose tax dollars they spend. We have to depend on the elected school boards of the districts to hold charter schools accountable. Hopefully there will be another push to make charter school governing boards subject to the same conflict of interest laws and open meeting laws that school district boards have to follow. That would make it a little more difficult for charter schools to waste our precious education funds. It also highlights whats wrong with high stakes testing. When everything rides on test scores, cheating will inevitably occur.

Good move! Got a question: since the faculty at Jordan never voted to go charter, and since the parents never voted to charter,is this somehow to make the illegal move more palatable over at Jordan by cleaning house on these cheater schools? Will that help to distract what's going on illegally at Jordan? Just asking.

When can we shut down LAUSD and UTLA? Just like failing charter schools, failing school districts and failing unions should be shut down as well.

Charter schools is business that anybody can start as long as you have the people to do it. Charters are run mostly by unscrupulous people who do not care about our kids education but the money they get from the district

 
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