- Charter Renewal Update - World Culture Share Fair - Fall Festival

October 7, 2016
SVA News & Notes
What's Happening at SVA?  

Oct. 10 -- PTO Meeting 

Oct. 11 -- VUSD Board Decision Hearing

Oct. 14 -- World Culture Share Fair

Oct. 27 -- Picture Day Grades K-6

Oct. 28 -- Picture Day Grades 7-8

Oct. 28 -- Fall Festival

SVA Charter Renewal /BOA Charter Update

Thank you to everyone who showed up for us at the VUSD Board meeting last night.  The audience included SVA parents, students, and staff, as well as allies from other local charter schools, Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center, Valley Life Charter Schools, Aspen Public Schools, and Valley Prep Academy, who share our deep concern about seeing this process occur as it should. Your presence was felt in a powerful way. 

Thank you too, to the 500+ people who viewed the live stream of the meeting on our Facebook page, and to the local press for showing up and putting the actions of VUSD in the public eye. Read the Visalia Times Delta front page article here.
We have many concerns about the "findings of fact" that VUSD has put forth. Some of these were listed in our email earlier this week, in order to shed some light on the kinds of misinformation and fallacious reasoning we see in the District's reports. More examples were discussed by Superintendent Dutton last night. Ms. Dutton attempted to respond to VUSD's 55 pages of findings with only a few minutes of speaking time allowed. We're including Ms. Dutton's prepared remarks so that our community can understand some additional examples that give us cause for concern. Read the text of Ms. Dutton's prepared remarks, which she would have read in full had time allowed. 

Jeff Sands, the Central Valley Regional Director for the California Charter Schools Association, spoke on behalf of Sycamore Valley Academy and Blue Oak Academy last night. He reiterated our position that our petitions have met all of the state  requirements necessary for approval as set forth in the California Education Code. He stated " District demands that numerous conditions be met in order to be  approved are inappropriate and unwarranted. VUSD district staff findings rely largely on conjecture  and misinformation, revealing what appears to be an improper bias against Sycamore Valley/Blue  Oak Academies, a flawed authorization process, or perhaps both."  Read the full text of the letter sent to the VUSD Board from the California Charter Schools Association here. 

B rian Geremia, of Young, Minney, & Corr, was the lawyer who spoke on behalf of our schools.  He reiterated our position that VUSD is applying a standard far above Ed Code section 47605(b)(5), which requires a reasonably comprehensive description of the 15 elements. Unless a charter petition's description of an element is wholly inadequate, this standard is typically met. When an authorizer evaluates a charter as deficient because it lacks information that is not expressly required in the statute nor commonly included in charter petitions, it is inappropriate.
One clear example is Education Code Section 47605(b)(5)(E), which requires "the qualifications to be met by individuals employed by the school." This cannot be read to require a staffing plan and job descriptions of non-certificated employees, which the District is seeking.  Remarks from District counsel last night suggests they looked at our documents more like a Business Plan than like a charter petition, which may explain why they deemed them insufficient, and illustrates our concern.

We continue to wish that if VUSD had questions or concerns regarding how we operate or the content of our petitions, those discussions had occurred over the last several years of our relationship and during the review of our charter petitions, in the same collaborative spirit we experienced in 2011.

SVA Board Chair, Rachele Berglund Bailey, also spoke on behalf of SVA and BOA. She reminded the VUSD Board that "it is the intent of the Legislature...that the establishment of charter schools should be encouraged" by authorizing Districts. Ms. Berglund-Bailey also read aloud a letter of support for SVA and BOA from California Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller. 
Read the letter from Senator Fuller her e.

The decision hearing for both charters will occur at the regular meeting of the VUSD Board next Tuesday, October 11. This meeting will begin at 7:00PM. 

What Can I Do? 

Email VUSD Board members.  These are publicly elected officials who are there to oversee the staff's work and ensure it is consistent with good stewardship of the public's trust. It is important for them to understand that their staff has put them in the tough po sition of recommending a course of action that is inconsistent with Ed Code 47605, which specifically directs authorizers to set aside their biases:

"In reviewing petitions for the establishment of charter schools pursuant to this section, the chartering authority shall be guided by the intent of the Legislature that charter schools are and should become an integral part of the California educational system and that the establishment of charter schools should be encouraged."

and inconsistent with the District's stated goal 5.5:

"Maintain total transparency in all services and projects and be accountable to the community."  

VUSD Board Contacts: 
  • Board President, John Crabtree: jcrabtree@vusd.org
  • Board Clerk, Donna Martin: dmartin@vusd.org
  • Trustee, Area 7, Bill Fulmer: bfulmer@vusd.org
  • Trustee, Area 2, Juan Guerrero: jguerrero@vusd.org
  • Trustee, Area 3, Jim Qualls: jqualls@vusd.org
  • Trustee, Area 1, Charles Ulmschneider: culmschneider@vusd.org
  • Trustee, Area 6, Lucia Vazquez: lvazquez@vusd.org
Raise awareness.  Share the correct information about the situation with the community.  If you have questions that need answers before you speak to someone, contact Ruth at  rdutton@sycamorevalleyacademy.org.  Our institution is, and will always be, one that communicates truth, and you can help us do that.  

Show up for us. Come out the the Board's decision hearing on Tuesday, October 11. We'll meet outside the district office (5000 W. Cypress) at 6:45PM, the meeting will begin at 7:00PM. 

Have faith. Tuesday evening, we may witness the VUSD Board "do what is right because it is right" and have the moral courage not to accept the inappropriate findings they received.  But if we do not, we have an appeals process available to us and we will immediately petition the Tulare County Office of Education to seek a just outcome, an impartial read of our documents.  If we end up with a different authorizer in the end, no significant changes to programs or funding will occur.  There would be new contracts and new service providers (details) to work out, but do not fear.  A change in authorizer will not undermine our programs or ability to deliver high quality education.
Tuesday, October 11 @ 7:00PM 
Meet outside 5000 W. Cypress @ 6:45PM
Hear the VUSD Board's decision 

Other events for the evening include: 
  • Haunted House
  • Costume Parade and Contest
  • Carnival Booths
  • Pumpkin Bowling
  • Silly String War Zone
Quesadilla Gorilla is Coming to Fall Festival! 

PLEASE pre-order your quesadillas through the PTO by clicking   here.  

We are so excited to have this fabulous foodie favorite serving up their hearty homemade fare at this year's PTO Fall Festival!

This popular downtown restaurant occupies the space under the stairs of the Fox Theater.  For more than two years now, Quesadilla Gorilla has been wowing its customers with its gourmet quesadillas. If you haven't tried it yet, you are in for a treat!

We need to guarantee sales of a minimum of 100 'dillas, so please pre-order today. Contact Melodi Flynn for more info. 

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/living/foo
PLEASE pre-order your quesadillas through the PTO by clicking here. 
Quesadilla Gorilla will offer four customer favorites at the Fall Festival: 

1.) Evan Boling : cilantro lime chicken with bacon and fresh jalapeƱos 

2.) The Classic : house chile verde with whole black beans and Spanish style rice

3.) Where's the Beef?! : shredded beef with grilled fajita veggies and whole black beans 

4.) Atomic Veggie : fresh pico de gallo, whole black beans and grilled fajita veggies. 

All quesadillas come with your choice to two delicious homemade sauces. 

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/living/foo
PLEASE pre-order your quesadillas through the PTO by clicking  here. 
Fall Festival Haunted House Help Needed

Are you crafty? Creative? Artistic? Will you help design props for the haunted house at Fall Festival on October 28? Do you have props or decorations to share? 

If you'd like to help make this year's haunted house come alive, contact Felicia Wilcox, fwilcox@sycamorevalleyacademy.org or text 559-754-4182.

SVA Hoodies & Tees On Sale at Fall Festival

If you did not place an advance order for your SVA sweatshirt, you're in luck! We still have stock in most sizes and will be selling them at the Fall Festival. 

**Due to space constraints in the office, we won't be selling shirts through the front desk until construction of our new building has been completed. Thank you for your understanding.**

If you placed an order for backordered items, they will be sent home the week of October 24-28. 

Lunch Menu

Monday, 10/10- Rib-B-Q Sandwich
Tuesday, 10/11 - Penne & White Sauce
Wednesday, 10/12 - Mini Hot Dog Twins
Thursday, 10/13 - Chicken Drummies
Friday, 10/14 - Pizza Pinwheel

Click here to download the  October Lunch Menu

For more information on lunch at SVA, please visit our website

Substitute Teachers Needed

Sycamore Valley Academy has a experienced and dedicated teaching staff, but we are always looking to expand our sub list.  

If you or someone you know has the desire to be a substitute teacher at our amazing school, has a bachelor's degree, has passed the CBEST, and is willing to get a substitute credential and fingerprint clearance we would love to grow our team.  

If you are interested please email Shauna Dolin at  sdolin@sycamorevalleyacademy.org

Next PTO Meeting

Monday, October 10

Round Table Pizza
4035 S. Mooney Blvd. 

Sycamore Valley Academy | 559.622.3236 | office@sycamorevalleyacademy.org
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