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

March 1, 2011 |  5:00 pm

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

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