A San Diego charter school that landed on a California list of persistently failing schools is now in limbo, after the San Diego Unified school board put off deciding whether it should continue to operate. It is another headache for King-Chavez Arts Academy, one in a system of Barrio Logan charter schools.

“If a charter school is not performing, I will close it,” said school board member Katherine Nakamura. “This one has not performed and it pains me terribly. … I don’t think it’s come up to snuff.”

Charter schools are publicly funded but independently run. They get the right to exist from school districts that oversee and monitor them, but leave their day-to-day operations up to the charters. After school districts allow them to open, districts also decide periodically whether or not to renew them.

Districts can shut down charter schools that falter if they prove the charters fall short for specific reasons laid out in state law.

The school board decided to postpone voting on King-Chavez Arts Academy until it had judged it under those legal rules. School district staffers had advised the board to let the school continue operating.

King-Chavez leaders argued that it was a “misnomer” to call the school failing. Its test scores landed it on the state list earlier this year, when we wrote this about it:

Four years ago, it was one of three related charter schools that replaced King Elementary, a San Diego Unified elementary school with significantly lower scores that was up for an overhaul under No Child Left Behind. But California didn’t measure the Arts Academy scores against King Elementary; it only measured the school’s own growth over time. …
King-Chavez Arts Academy would also have avoided the list if test scores hadn’t fallen last year. The irony is that their scores dropped after the school replaced its teachers, one of the severe steps that the feds are urging struggling schools to consider.


Dagny Salas

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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