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Two weeks after teachers and parents called for San Diego Unified to launch an investigation of a Chollas View charter school, other parents and teachers have stepped up to counter their complaints.

Promise Charter has been roiled by controversy after Principal Jose Orozco and new board members made a string of controversial decisions, including firing a teacher. Parents and teachers packed a school board meeting two weeks ago, alleging that Orozco intimidated parents who disagreed with him, and he harassed their children. They allege some of the changes violated their charter, which sets school rules.

Orozco has denied the allegations. Last night, scores of parents, teachers and others packed the San Diego Unified school board meeting to back him and his actions. Many said that Orozco and the board had done the right thing by introducing changes at Promise, such as setting rules on inappropriate contact between students and teachers and altering how parent meetings were run.

Several argued that the school was being dominated by a few upset teachers averse to change. Jose Villaescuza, a parent and Promise board member, wrote a letter to the San Diego Unified board:

This school under the direction of the new members is heading in the right direction even though the 7th and 8th grade teachers are mad because of the fact that they have boundaries now in how they interact with their students …. What I have witnessed over the last few months is [a few teachers] rally people to try and get control of the school back.

The thing that makes this dispute so hard for the San Diego Unified school board — and so hard to cover as a reporter — is the central question: Who speaks for the school? Who really is in the majority?

Charter board members are often chosen by other board members, not elected like a school district board. The parents calling for an investigation brought a petition to the school board Thursday, but the parents who support Orozco alleged the others had duped parents into signing it.

While Promise is an independently run charter school, the district is supposed to provide oversight. Charter schools can be shut down if they violate their rules or perform poorly.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/emilyschoolsyou.

Emily Alpert

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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