Parents are weighing the idea of splitting Correia Middle and other Point Loma schools from San Diego Unified as independent charter schools, which would free them to handle their own budgets, staffing and curriculum. The idea was tossed around at a parent foundation meeting in Point Loma, where parents and principals said they were weary of the nonstop turnover at the school district.

It is a similar to an idea floated by school board member John de Beck, who has proposed creating a new school district for coastal schools. But Correia Principal Patricia Ladd hinted that the time may be ripe for going charter. The middle school made No Child Left Behind targets this year, but if it does not do so next year, it is supposed to restructure. Becoming a charter school is one option.

“I almost feel like it’s a perfect storm,” Ladd said.

Ladd also has experience with charters: She led Keiller Leadership Academy through a conversion from a district-run school to a charter school, showing remarkable success in the process. The middle school in southeast San Diego was one of only two in California that were able to pull themselves out of No Child Left Behind purgatory.

She later left the school amid accusations about how well she related to Latino and black families. She was lauded this year at Correia when scores on state tests surged on her watch.

The question that many parents raised was how the entire cluster of schools that feed into Point Loma High School could go charter, allowing students to move from one school to another, and keeping busing from poorer areas of the city to diversify the schools intact. Representatives from the California Charter Schools Association said that they knew of no examples of groups of schools doing so.

“This would be some pretty groundbreaking stuff,” said Steven Holguin of the charter school group.

The parent foundation made no decisions on whether to move forward with a charter petition. Doing so would require the group to get signatures from half of the teachers involved, create a budget, draft a document that would outline how the school would operate, and get approval from the school board. The last San Diego Unified schools to convert into charters did so in 2005.


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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