The San Diego Unified school board decided to allow a charter school that ended up on a state list of persistently failing schools to stay open, but only if it meets a long list of conditions.

King-Chavez Arts Academy has to disclose information about the financial operations of its management group and consultants, provide conflict-of-interest policies, show that it will meet the needs of English learners and students with disabilities and describe employee rights — a touchy subject for a school that fired teachers two years ago, spurring some employees to try to unionize.

“Renewing with these conditions will allow the school to look at its strengths and its weaknesses and continue to move forward,” said school board member John Lee Evans, who backed the plan.

Under the conditions, the Arts Academy also has to shut itself down in five years if its test scores don’t meet goals. Its attorney, Greg Moser, argued that the school should have been approved without any conditions at all because the King-Chavez system has a good track record overall.

But the crowd of parents and children seemed relieved that the school got another chance, even if it came with strings attached. Several called out, “Thank you!” as they left the school board meeting.

Charters are independent public schools that get the right to exist from school districts that oversee and monitor them. Districts can shut down charter schools if they prove they fall short for specific reasons laid out in state law. However, school boards have leeway to offer schools another chance and often face heavy pressure from parents to keep charters open, even when they struggle academically.


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