San Diego Unified will decide in less than a month whether to shut down an embattled charter school, the do-or-die moment in a dramatic saga that has bitterly divided the Chollas View school.

Promise Charter and the school district had tried to hash out an agreement to let the school stay open if it met a long list of conditions, including remaking its board and undergoing training on transparency and conflict-of-interest laws.

But when Promise tried to alter the agreement to keep more members of its existing charter school board, San Diego Unified balked. No agreement was reached. Instead, San Diego Unified took the next step towards closing down the school last night, holding a public hearing on whether it should survive.

Promise Charter has been in the crosshairs after a San Diego Unified investigation found the school had violated state laws that require it to hold open meetings and had kept faulty financial statements, among a long list of other problems.

Charter school leaders argue they have fixed or refuted all of the problems and point to their high test scores as proof they are on the right track. But San Diego Unified was unconvinced. It took the first steps toward shuttering Promise earlier this year.

“It’s an injustice,” said Cristina Duarte, a mother who became tearful Tuesday as she begged the San Diego Unified board to keep Promise open. “I approve of the director. He’s doing what he should.”

Parents and teachers who wanted to save the school filled up the front rows and hoisted orange signs that said “KEEP PROMISE ALIVE!” The back was full of parents and teachers waving blue signs that said “REVOCATION BEFORE CORRUPTION,” who were fed up with Promise and said it should be closed.

“The very things that made us great have been systematically dismantled by (Principal Jose) Orozco and the board,” said Vicky Toscano, a fourth grade teacher.

School board President Richard Barrera said the board would likely decide what happens to Promise in early August. The last time that San Diego Unified revoked a charter was five years ago.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter:

Emily Alpert

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

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