Several readers wanted to know what had happened to the people and schools named in my special report today about charter administrator Mike Hazelton. Here’s a quick summary:
- Mike Hazelton and his wife Deborah Hazelton are operating a Solana Beach tutoring center. Its website advertises hour-long sessions for $75 each.
- Jacqueline Hicks is still executive director of Cortez Hill Academy in downtown San Diego. Hazelton and his actions as director of the school “trashed our reputation everywhere,” Hicks said. Meeting minutes show that Cortez Hill had difficulty getting grants the following year because of its debt and operating losses.
Still, Hicks said Cortez Hill Academy is recovering financially after some painful cuts and convincing their landlord to lower their rent. She was initially reluctant to speak with voiceofsandiego.org about the issue because she feared that it would further harm the school’s reputation. They are still enrolling students and trying to boost fundraising.
- Jonathan Alva, 20, who graduated late from high school after the abrupt closure of Las Banderas Academy, is now majoring in business administration with a minor in communication from San Bernardino Valley College.
- Las Banderas Academy cofounder Emma Lechuga tried to retire early after the school and her nonprofit Somos Hermanas Unidas closed. It didn’t work. She and her husband built homes and she “delved a little bit into real estate.” She also finished up her master’s degree.
- Many parents from Theory Into Practice Academy are sending their children to the Phoenix Learning Center, hosted by the Julian Charter School. The North County Times wrote this article about the new school.
Former Colton Joint Unified Superintendent Dennis Byas is now superintendent of San Lorenzo Unified School District, where he oversees a charter school run by KIPP Academy, a widespread franchise of schools that includes a downtown San Diego charter.
“They have great teachers, wonderful leadership and they’re high-performing,” Byas said. “If I want financial information, I can get it that day.”
He got a call from Mike Hazelton “a couple of months ago.”
“He said, ‘Hey, how are you doing? … I really did a good job for you guys. Do you believe I was trying hard?’” Byas quoted Hazelton as saying. Byas said told Hazelton, “Well, it appeared you were trying hard.”
Byas was stunned when I told him that Hazelton was earning nearly $128,000 annually at Las Banderas, according to its tax filings.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said, remembering that he had questioned whether the school could afford to pay roughly $75,000 to another employee.