School & District Management

Displaced Students Enrolled in New Charter Schools

By Catherine Gewertz — September 21, 2004 2 min read
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Thousands of California students were suddenly left without classrooms when the company that operated their charter schools closed last month. But a new report shows that most of the students who were of regular school age have moved to other charter schools.

The California Charter Schools Association, a nonprofit group that advises and advocates for the state’s 537 charter schools, released the report last week. The association collected data from the charter schools that enrolled the students displaced from the approximately 60 campuses of the failed California Charter Academy.

It obtained cca’s enrollment figures from the California Department of Education, which is investigating the charter-management organization. The state reports that cca enrolled 5,495 students in 2003-04, but 40 percent were adults. Of the remaining 3,300 students, 80 percent, or 2,646, are now enrolled in 19 charter schools, said Gary L. Larson, a spokesman for the Los Angeles-based association.

Cca had counted its enrollment as about 11,000, but it got that figure by including all students who had attended at some point in 2003-04, said Keith Edmonds, a consultant with the California education department’s charter school division. The department’s method of counting, which looks at enrollment on a given day, put the figure at 5,495, he said.

Education Week had cited an enrollment of “some 10,000" in reporting on cca’s failure. (“Calif. Charter Failure Affects 10,000 Students,” Sept. 1, 2004.)

The 5-year-old California Charter Academy, an organization based in Victorville, Calif., closed some of its schools in July and the rest in August, in the face of questions from the state about its business practices.

Changing Rules

The state charter association did not track how many cca students enrolled in noncharter public schools. Officials from the charter-management organization could not be reached for comment.

The organization had operated many of its campuses as satellites, outside the geographic boundaries of the three school districts that authorized the charters.

It also enrolled a large portion of students older than 18.

But California law or regulations that went into effect within the last two years were phasing out both practices, Mr. Edmonds said.

Most of CCA’s campuses are closed, Mr. Edmonds said. But some have been absorbed by existing charter schools, and two have become independent charter schools by obtaining authorization from the school districts in which they are located, he said.

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