Students play during a break at the San Diego Cooperative Charter School Mountain View campus. / Photo by Dustin Michelson

On Wednesday night, the board of the San Diego Cooperative Charter School — known as one of the most progressive schools around — took the extraordinary step of shutting down one of its campuses mid-school-year

Now, 184 students — many of whom already have unstable home lives, according to some of the co-op school’s teachers — will find themselves stranded, without a school, starting in December. 

Parents and teachers only learned last Monday that the school’s Mountain View campus might close, reports Will Huntsberry. 

The troubles at the co-op school did not appear out of nowhere. A crisis has been brewing for months, fueled by various factions at the school’s two campuses. The school has one location with a whiter, wealthier student body in Linda Vista and another in Mountain View, a poorer area of the city. 

Disagreements between the factions came to a boiling point over key decisions made by the school’s former executive director, Tom Pellegrino. This led several teachers to resign last summer, and families started pulling out of the Mountain View campus en masse. It lost more than a third of its student body, which ultimately caused serious money problems for the entire organization. 

Huntsberry lays out the entire backstory of events that led to the collapse of a progressive experiment at a high poverty school. 

But Wait, Could the Co-op Have a Comeback?

Despite the recent decision to close, a group of parents and teachers at Mountain View are pushing for the campus to be reborn. They want the school to reopen as a “pilot” under the jurisdiction of San Diego Unified School District. 

In this week’s Learning Curve, Huntsberry explains what a pilot school actually is. Even though they are operated by a traditional school district, pilot schools have more freedom than a traditional public school. 

They can develop their own curriculum and they also have more freedom to hire certain teachers. In the case of Mountain View, the hope is that the school district would be able to hire back most of the staff who will lose their jobs this December. The school would also likely stick closely to a curriculum modeled after the co-op school. 

Should the pilot school open, it would be the first in San Diego. But Los Angeles Unified has invested heavily in pilots. Since 2007, the district has opened more than 40 pilot schools, and district officials say that, on average, they perform better than other district schools.  

Speaking of Charter School Chaos …

If you need some new listening material for your commute, check out our latest episode of Good Schools for All. The show has a very different sound than our weekly podcast, and in the latest episode Will Huntsberry tells the story of the largest alleged charter school scam ($80 million!) in California’s history. You can find Good Schools for All wherever you get your podcasts. 

CBP Gave Migrants Fake Court Dates

The Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols policy requires asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico until their cases are resolved. The Mexican government agreed to accept migrants with future court dates.

But the Union-Tribune reports that on at least 14 occasions, Customs and Border Protection agents in California and Texas gave migrants fake court dates — meaning some are being sent south of the border indefinitely, despite their cases having concluded. 

A lawyer for one of those migrants said her client was then stabbed while in Mexico, and complained that the U.S. government was engaging in fraud. 

It’s hard to say how widespread the practice is, but lawyers in California and Texas told the newspaper that they’d seen the fake court dates firsthand. Only about 1 percent of asylum-seekers in the Migrant Protection Protocols program have lawyers. 

Last month, Maya Srikrishnan reported that Border Patrol placed a Cuban woman who was fleeing kidnappers back in removal proceedings, even though her case had been terminated by an immigration judge. It was like the judge’s order didn’t exist. 

This week, Buzzfeed also spotlighted a secretive federal program along the Texas border that slashes the time asylum-seekers have to prepare their immigration cases in an attempt to speed up a decision while in U.S. custody. One immigration analyst called it “another brick in the virtual wall” that’s intended to keep migrants out. 

California to SANDAG: Good Job!

The San Diego Association of Governments is considering a proposal that will allocate nearly 172,000 new homes across the county in upcoming years. Cities with more jobs and transit stops are getting a higher proportion this time around to encourage more density and shorter commutes. 

The leaders of some smaller cities are not happy with the new methodology for divvying up houses, but the state thinks it’s great. KPBS reports that the California Department of Housing and Community Development sent a letter to SANDAG this week praising SANDAG’s housing plan, which also includes an “equity adjustment” requiring wealthier communities to set aside more space for low-income units. 

Interactions with state housing regulators in neighboring counties have been more combative. Our pal Liam Dillon at the Los Angeles Times tweeted highlights from the Southern California Association of Governments discussion Thursday. Some coastal officials argued that more of the homes should go inland, where there’s more vacant land, to provide less disturbance to existing development. 

In Other News


Tuesday’s story about the District 1 County Board of Supervisors race incorrectly identified Rafael Castellanos as chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners. He is a Port commissioner but not the chair.

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and Will Huntsberry, and edited by Sara Libby.

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