• Last night, I received this e-mail:

My name is Bob Wilson, and I’m a reporter with the Antelope Valley Press in Palmdale. I’m doing a story about a proposal by Insight Schools to establish an online charter school through the Antelope Valley Union High School District, and I’m at a loss as to what became of a similar request submitted earlier this year to the San Diego Unified School District.

Has that petition to SDUSD been withdrawn by Insight, or is it still pending?

I realized that I was also at a loss to answer that question. Wilson was referring to this proposal by Insight Schools to open the first exclusively online public high school in the district. (Cynthia Harris at National University pointed out that the nonprofit university system already has a private National University Virtual High School.)

At the time, several board members expressed skepticism about the plan. Insight Schools said its new virtual campus would benefit the district by giving students who may not be able to attend a traditional campus, and thus drop out, another option.

Under state law, the district has only a few months to review and either approve or deny a charter petition. The first hearing on the Insight Schools petition was in April, but nothing has happened since then.

This morning, the Office of School Choice at the district said that the petition was withdrawn. The company, a staffer at the office said, had sent a short letter announcing its decision, but did not specify why.

I called Brian Rose, the vice president of development at Insight Schools, to ask why the company decided to pull out. He wasn’t there. If I hear back from him, I’ll let you know.

  • Another reader asked me this:

“What is the new SDUSD ethics office doing? Will they get involved in the Betancourt situation (given that, contrary to the district’s spokesperson’s assertion, Betancourt’s crime occurred while he was employed by the district)?”

Excellent question. In fact, school board members had a very similar one when the district’s Ethics Officer Joan McRobbie came before the board to ask it for approval to hire an assistant to help in her office in May.

I was reviewing the DVD of that meeting just the other day.

Would the new assistant be working on ethics investigations, several board members asked?

No, McRobbie answered. That’s the job of the Office of Internal Audits and Investigations, which reports to the district’s general counsel. McRobbie’s office reports to Superintendent Carl Cohn’s chief of staff.

The Office of Internal Audits and Investigations does the investigating, McRobbie said. Her job is to educate the staff about good ethics, so that they don’t violate them in the first place.

The school board did not approve hiring her an assistant. Instead, board members said the money should be spent on hiring more investigators for the general counsel.


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