New Charter Policy in San Diego Unified School District
July 27, 2011 San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) has engaged it's member schools in developing a new charter policy, which has been lacking since it was revoked about 6 years ago under Superintendent Cohn.
In conjunction with the charter community, CCSA, and the Charter School Consortium, SDUSD had created a superb charter policy in 2001. The policy was the culmination of many hours of collaboration and work from SDUSD staff and charter leaders. The policy was one of the first of its kind and was actual a model policy for a time with National Association of Charter School Operators (NACSA).
Superintendent Cohn apparently did not see the relevance and recommended to the board that they revoke it. At that point it may have needed some revision but revoking it was a mistake as we have found out. New Board members have no policy to refer to and the ed. code is not detailed enough to resolve many of issues that arise. The "old" policy not only gave detail on how to handle new petitions, renewals, amendments and such, but discussed how the charters and the district should work together and the purpose of having charters within their district.
The "old" policy has certainly given the new working group a great place to begin developing new policy. The charter office has convened both charter leaders and district staff, about 20 people in all, to collaborate on putting together a new policy that will help define the relationship between charters and SDUSD, as well as give some guidance and direction on the operational issues. Board Member Barnett and Superintendent Kowba both attended the first meeting. Deputy Superintendent of Academics, Dr. Nellie Meyer has attended each meeting thus far and is committed to developing a policy that provides direction and also fosters best practices sharing between traditional public schools and charters.
The working group is off to a great start this summer and hopes to have a draft by fall. It is an ambitious timeline but with the "old" policy as our starting point, we may make it.