Encinitas Union School District is pushing to shut down a charter school, alleging self-dealing, lying and secret meetings held by its board of directors.

Theory Into Practice Academy was asked to address a list of allegations in May, including that school director Deborah Hazelton pressured the board into hiring her husband Mike Hazelton for a $95,000 position. Five trustees, including the Hazeltons, resigned, according to the Union-Tribune.

Parents at the school sent a letter to the school district that stated, “We are confident that there will be future compliance at TIP Academy with all applicable requirements. If there was a lesson to be learned, it has indeed been learned.”

In a May interview, one mother said she was unsure if mistakes were made, but the school’s success should grant it a chance to restructure and fix the problems.

“My son would come home and say things like, ‘Mommy, I’m a lifelong learner, did you know that? And you’re a lifelong learner, too!’” said Susanne Hoover. When her son attended other schools, “I used to get answers like, ‘We did nothing today.’”

But Encinitas school officials believe their response fell short and say their investigation turned up more problems, such as meetings that went undisclosed to the public. Their report concludes that three TIP trustees gained paid employment or consulting jobs with the school after joining the board, that one trustee got an unexplained $8,000 payment, and that Deborah Hazelton did use her influence to secure her husband’s job.

“TIP Academy has lost credibility through their extensive violations, through their insufficient and inappropriate Response, and through their continuing inappropriate conduct,” the report concluded.

Encinitas trustees will review the report at a school board meeting Tuesday. Read the full report here.


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