Monday, July 21, 2014
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Magnolia Science Academy - A Gulen Charter School: Magnolia Science Academy investigation California ...
Magnolia Science Academy - A Gulen Charter School: Magnolia Science Academy investigation California ...: Not only the LAUSD but the entire State of California http://laschoolreport.com/magnolia-charter-troubles-having-impact-beyond-la-unifi...
CLEVELAND -- Bombshell allegations made against a charter school company that runs several schools right here in Northeast Ohio. As we reported in June, the FBI raided several Horizon Science Schools in this area -- and WKYC learned that the Ohio Auditor has launched a special audit into Horizon-Concept schools. This comes as former teachers went before the Ohio Board of Education today with allegations of test-tampering, sexual misconduct and racial slurs against African American students. About a month ago, we told you that the FBI raided some of our local schools-- and now more investigations. "School officials were filling in bubbles on standardized tests, they claimed that it was because students didn't fill in circles dark enough," says Matt Blair, a former teacher. The allegations today were limited to the Horizon Science Academy in Dayton. Concept Schools charter chain runs 19 schools in Ohio, all will be part of a special audit by the Ohio Auditor's office. Teachers said they witnessed racial slurs, sexual activity among students that wasn't reported to parents and unsafe building conditions. The Ohio Department of Education has also said it will investigate the complaints. No Cleveland schools were implicated in the testimony today. Horizon Science Schools in Cleveland have had strong academic records even being named Blue Ribbon Schools http://www.wkyc.com/local/
Friday, July 18, 2014
Magnolia Science Academy - A Gulen Charter School: LAUSD to expand investigation includes all Magnoli...
Magnolia Science Academy - A Gulen Charter School: LAUSD to expand investigation includes all Magnoli...: http://laschoolreport.com/just-in-lausd-expanding-probe-into-magnolia-charter-schools LAUSD’s audit of two Magnolia Science Academy ch...
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Ex Teachers, Parents and Pupils of Horizon Science Academy tell of test cheating, sexual scandals and more
http://www.abc22now.com/shared/news/top-stories/stories/wkef_vid_21200.shtml Horizon Charter Schools Under Investigation DAYTON/COLUMBUS -- A federal investigation is underway concerning multiple instances of misconduct at 19 Horizon Science Academy charter schools in Ohio. Three of the schools being investigated are located in Dayton. A group of teachers from Horizon Science Academy Dayton High School attended the Ohio Board of Education meeting Tuesday, to share testimony about their allegations of school misconduct. "The stuff that went on here was so outrageous and absolutely unfair," said former Horizon teacher Kellie Kochensperger in an interview after the public hearing portion of the board meeting, "Unprofessional and completely beyond anything I thought a public school should have happening." "Some of the teachers here have used racial slurs when describing students," added Richard Storrick, who worked for the Dayton High School until June of 2013. The allegations don't stop at racial slurs, Kochensperger says she testified about sexual misconduct that she believes the administration hid from parents. "Oral sex, that took place outside of the cultural festival, an after school activity," Kochensperger said. She said the incident took place while she was working at the school, with a group of 6th and 8th grade students. Other students are alleged to have watched, and the incident was recorded on school surveillance cameras. Kochensperger says none of this was reported to parents, who were told that students were suspended for being out of school boundaries. "It's a publicly funded school, so everybody's tax dollars are funding everything we just talked about," Storrick vented. Teachers also allege they were instructed to improperly conduct state standardized tests, and not ask questions about it. "It says here in the book that they're supposed to have calculators," Kochensperger said about a conversation she had with a superior administrator during a testing day, "and he told me they don't need them, it's a science test not a math test." "With every bone in my body I thought if I filed a complaint with the Ohio Department of Education, if I filed a civil rights suit, if I did anything that would get back to [the Horizon] director I would be terminated and I would lose my job," said Storrick about the allegations of intimidation presented to the State Education Board. He added that's why the group of teachers who testified waited until they had found other teaching jobs to do so. About the state meeting today, board member Deborah Cain said, "We as a state board and as a department of education have got to get to the bottom of this. Every allegation must be investigated to its fullest." "Knowing that the kids are being cheated in the long run," Kochensperger said with frustration, "I'm very passionate about students in Ohio deserving better." Horizon Science Academy Dayton and it's parent company Concept Charter Schools did not respond to requests for comment on the investigation.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Two high performing LA Unified charter schools, Magnolia Science Academy 6 and Magnolia Science Academy 7, have been ordered to shut down after failing a new round of scrutiny, leaving the possibility that 450 students will be looking for a new school in the fall.
The two schools had initially been approved for renewal by the school board in March, pending the results of an internal fiscal audit by the district’s Inspector General. But the findings of that audit, which was concluded late last month, led the LAUSD Charter School Division to call off the four-year renewals.
“We are empathetic that parents and families are in this situation but it doesn’t touch the level of disruption it would cause if the schools were to shut down mid-year,” board member Steve Zimmer told LA School Report about the last minute closure.
“What is happening now is a function of our obligation as an authorizer. We have an obligation to make sure all of our schools are sound and to make sure the laws are followed,” said Zimmer, in whose district Magnolia Science Academy 6 is located.
Last week the schools’ management organization, Magnolia Charter Schools, filed an injunction in Los Angeles Superior Court to prevent the closures. A hearing is set for July 24th.
It’s unclear exactly how the schools violated the district’s guidelines — district officials declined to elaborate — but at the time of the renewal application the district was looking into the long-term fiscal viability of the two schools. Both have struggled to meet enrollment targets and were planning to eliminate grade levels next year. And neither school maintained the district’s recommended 5 percent in cash reserves as a rainy day fund.
Another issue that has dogged the schools’ operator in the past has been its ties to the Gulen movement, a Turkish Islamist group that has founded schools, think tanks, and media outlets around the world.
At the school board meeting in March, Inspector General Ken Bramlett confirmed claims of the association, “We have done some looking into that allegation and there is some evidence that some members of the Magnolia organization do have ties with the Gulen movement, but we have not found anything currently that would be grounds for denial.”
Instead, Jose Cole-GbEuitierrez, Director of the Charter School division told the board, “we want to do a deeper dive” into the schools’ financial state, before adding, “our expectation is that there [will be] no material weaknesses found in that review.”
But the findings of that audit apparently revealed enough damaging information that it triggered the non-renewal.At last week’s board meeting Janelle Ruley, an attorney representing the Magnolia Science Academy schools, challenged the Charter School Division’s decision and its timing,
Below is the forensic audit for Magnolia #6 and #7, page 5 indicates these schools paid over $200,000 for h1-b immigration visas and many were not employees of the school. MERF, one of the parent companies over the Magnolia Science Academies owes the schools $2.8 million.