No teachers’ union, no political agendas…

Chula Vista Elementary School District launches charter school

A new high-school charter is opening under the umbrella of Chula Vista Elementary School District. The high school will be housed on the small, for-profit United States University campus on Bayfront Boulevard.

Bayfront High School, as it is called, is an extension of Mueller Elementary Charter; both are located in western Chula Vista. The high school is only accepting applications for ninth graders at this time.

Although the charter is financed with public funds, students have to apply to get into the school.

The application, which is only in English online, informs the student who is applying that in the event there is not enough space, the openings will default to a lottery.

The application also informs students that if they attend Mueller elementary, or if they are currently enrolled in any Charter Alliance school, they will receive priority. A Bayfront Charter website begs the question of what schools are in the Charter Alliance.

The entrance application also asks students to write a statement. Students are to expound upon why they would find Bayfront a good fit. The answer would have to be creative, as Bayfront is only a concept at this point; advertisements for teachers for the school can be found online.

A slew of questions grouped together appear to be designed to find out if the applicant will be a high-need student: will the student be promoted this year?; has the student ever been suspended?; does the student have an attendance plan?; does the student have an IEP, (Individualized Educational Program)? — which is to say — does the student have a learning disability?

Nationwide, charter schools have been criticized for under-enrolling students with special needs.

A 2013 Reuters article by Stephanie Simon states: “Charters are public schools, funded by taxpayers and widely promoted as open to all. But Reuters has found that across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law.”

Mueller Charter has a CEO as well as a principal. The CEO, Dr. Kevin Riley, writes in a Mueller weblog called El Milagro: “Imagine a public school that has complete control over its entire $7.5 million budget. Imagine having complete authority to invest your resources any way you choose. Imagine absolute freedom from outside influence of any kind — no state bureaucracy, no meddling school district, no teachers union, no boilerplate contracts, no negotiated agreements, no political agendas, no labor force distractions, no competing agencies.”

The United State University campus, on which the Bayfront high school charter will be housed, has enjoyed a less than sterling reputation since it opened in May 2011.

In April 2013, the Reader’s Don Bauder wrote: “United States University has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $686,720, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. The school's former financial aid director, Christina Miller, pleaded guilty to falsifying loan applications so students could get Pell grants from the U.S. Department of Education. Miller will be sentenced June 27. The school, with a campus in Chula Vista, was known as InterAmerican University from 1997 to 2010, when it changed its name to United States University…”

Then, in June 2013, the accrediting commission, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, put United States University on probation. The commission “found that the University was not in compliance with elements of the four WASC Standards for Accreditation: Standard 1 (Defining Institutional Purposes and Ensuring Educational Objectives), Standard 2 (Achieving Educational Objectives through Core Functions), Standard 3 (Developing and Applying Resources and Organizational Structures to Ensure Sustainability), and Standard 4 (Creating an Organization Committed to Learning and Improvement).

According to the WASC website, an “Accreditation Visit is schedule for spring 2015 to evaluate United States University’s progress in addressing the Commission’s concerns.”

Disclosure: The author’s daughter is on the bargaining team for the Chula Vista Educators. The charter school is not a member of the bargaining unit. Also, the author of this article graduated from Mueller Elementary.

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Great that you gave full disclosure, Ms. Luzzaro!

But what about lab sciences? You can't throw those classes together at the last minute. Parents would have to be extremely unhappy with the secondary school district to decide to try something this new--that really doesn't even exist yet!

Oh, wait, that secondary school district would be Sweetwater.

Never mind.

Here we go again. Another quick fix -

I am greatly concerned that Dr. Riley seems all consumed and bragging about all of the power he will have vs. focusing on all the Charter is prepared to offer.. God forbid any Charter should have to answer to the State regarding how they are spending the money or what the true results of their programs are.

I have seen what another Dr in the South Bay promised - Ed Brand. Those promises - EMPTY!!!!!! In my opinion.

Parents WAKE UP - all that glitters is not gold. These are your most precious gifts - do NOT gamble on their futures.

When are we going to see persons who are ready and willing to serve vs. use.

Bayfront has been opened for two years now, and as you can see those promises are not empty. Bayfront is a great school, they focus more on the students than a regular school would, and teachers and students have a great relationship. In my opinion Bayfront is the best school i have ever attended, and every student here thinks the same.

Looks like it started as a nursing school, and then branched out.

So they can REgain it, just like SWC. I don't see that as the real issue here.

This is a dream! Why be a principal when you could be CEO of a charter school? Problem kids? Problem parents? Problem teachers? Just kick them out. No teachers union? Good riddance! Finally having ultimate control of all the money and ...well, having ultimate control to make all the decisions without having to consider anyone else. Here is something I do very well. These charter schools are the future!

I disagree. Resource positions where you sit on the sidelines and don't take risks are the future!

Be careful. We union people can make up harassment stories, dig up emails from years ago, play the victim pity party game and try to get you in trouble. We don't like charters because we know we would be transferred, and this inconveniences us. The union protects us from the district. However, the union doesn't protect us from parents who's daughters we made cry because of petty uniform violations and lawyers that specialize in wrongful termination. We need more protection from SEA leadership, and thatsthetruth!

This sounds too much like Alliant University. Blow a lot of smoke, make promise after promise with little to deliver while sucking up the tax dollars. Grifters and con men are flocking to Chula Vista because of the easy money.

Since when did a school need an executive director or a CEO in addition to a school principal?  This sure seems like a waste of taxpayers' money.

Is this CV's answer to Brand for opening the elementary schools. Too bad education has become big business. Does anyone else feel like we are losing control of our schools?

Yes. Almost like bank deregulation. Remember how great that was? I hope the parents really think this through.

Public education is locked in a contradiction in our present economic system--private or public, it will remain a numbers game.

Charter schools, bad idea all the way around. Discriminatory against school students in so many ways. A few making easy money off of us taxpayers. A right-wing attempt to circumvent the value of fully-trained and educated teachers of the Teacher's Union and to separate the working class and poor communities from the rich. Bravo our public education system and it's teachers! Say no to charter schools!

I've received two queries about the financing for this school. I did ask CVESD, in a public record request, if the district or Mueller is paying rent--if so, how much. The district responded that it didn't have those records and directed me to Mueller. Mueller charter is an LEA , essentially its own district. I will follow up. In terms of researching, tracking the public dollars with charters becomes more complicated.

Ms. Luzzaro, that seems to be one of the big questions for these charter schools. Of course, we have the Sweetwater example where Brand keeps saying that the charter schools aren't costing the district anything...but are the charter schools paying for their facilities usage?

It seems to me that the more educational monies are diverted into charter schools, the less control the public has over those monies, and that may well be one reason why charter schools can be popular with school administrations. That, and it is a way to shift emphasis from specific things that need to be improved in a particular school to a "fresh start" that really might not even be much more than a metaphoric coat of paint.

I hope you are in the Mueller Elementary Hall of Fame!! You certainly deserve recognition for getting the word out on all the educational issues we are struggling with here in south San Diego county.

It is hard to know where to start, after reading this report. The first thing that needs to be remembered is that the charters are PUBLIC schools, paid for with tax money by the state, just like all the other "regular" public schools. In exchange for some autonomy and some relaxation of the state education code, they were supposed to use the flexibility to do a better job. But in the twenty years they've been around in this state, few have actually done anything very special. They have had scandals, have been taken over by ideologues, and many have just failed miserably. But at the same time, some of them are credibly accused of cherry picking students, getting the ones who will make them look good, and keeping those who would not outside looking in.

When "the CEO, Dr. Kevin Riley, writes in a Mueller weblog called El Milagro: 'Imagine a public school that has complete control over its entire $7.5 million budget. Imagine having complete authority to invest your resources any way you choose. Imagine absolute freedom from outside influence of any kind — no state bureaucracy, no meddling school district, no teachers union, no boilerplate contracts, no negotiated agreements, no political agendas, no labor force distractions, no competing agencies'”, we all should quake. What he's saying is that nobody, and that includes the public or the state or the parents have any control. No control equals no accountability, and I remind you these are public, taxpayer supported schools.

I don't believe that any charter school CEO enjoys such wide-ranging power, but if you have one who behaves as if he/she does, look out!

More to come as I think of it.

That's pretty nice eastlaker, thank you back for your studied comments. Success of the charters is ambivalent--and is, of course, based on STARS testing, which nowadays districts are disowning; what is the rubric?

Some say that a charter is going forward at Castle Park Middle, in the Sweetwater district. This would be a co-location, charter and public on the same campus. There has been a lot of reporting recently about co-location in New York.

So how is that different from the felons at SUHSD or Southwestern College being placed on probation by WASC???

The question of who is paying for Bayfront High's rented classroom space is an important one. If a charter school's facilities (rented classroom space) are funded through public taxes, then wouldn't we be paying twice for the same thing?  We have already paid to build schools and passed bonds to improve them.  It would be like buying a new car, spending money to maintain it, and then because someone in the family doesn't like it, giving them money to rent one more to their liking.  Even if the classroom space was given away, I'd be wary considering this university's student loan history.  Might these high school students and their families  be easy pickings?  (Read the referenced Don Bauder article)

Check this out. McCann calling for resignation of Cartmill and Lopez...


Just ate lunch, then read ths BS Propaganda from Johnny baby, and want to hurl...

He is a legend in his own mind, taking credit for actions that the students and teachers accomplished without contracts, guidence from a corrupt board/adminstration, deficit funding of the district, 2/3 of the schools still in academic limbo from the state...

So John, if we are is such good shape, Why are we changing to "Common Core" and how is the transition going?

So John, if we are in this good of shape appearently the grandure of the district office is not a problem, so why waste money on a new one.

Oh John, an audit of spending, real estate, Consultants, I believe you have promised those things, what's up with that?

John, actions or lack of actions speak louder than words, your actions have spoken for themselves. Please quit guilding your failures with the student and teacher's successes!!!!

People of San Diego South Bay, look around is SUHSD better than it was 4 years ago? Go through the archive of Susan Luzzaro's stories, they speak volumes.


Oh, brother. More complete bilge from McCann. Does he really believe this stuff, or does he pay someone to dream it up? It is so off-base, it might actually be funny if it were in the context of a comic scene in a film.

Unfortunately, it is John McCann being John McCann, which is to say, being an individual who clearly lacks any kind of reasonable and good judgment. He needs to be kept away from decision-making positions.

Help us all...work together to keep Chula Vista safe from John McCann!!!

The word according to John McCann is just plain drivel, and SD Rostra should be ashamed for posting such drivel from a known prevaricator. Someone should write the truth, starting with the fact that McCann did NOT beat Sandoval, it was an open seat, or so I recall. That would take a bit of research, but SD Rostra should post it as a rebuttal to McCann's puffery.

Rumor has it that students and staff are being recruited by Bonita Vista Middle and Chula Vista High to help build Bayfront. As a concerned protected union employee, I urge other members to help to protect this from happening.

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