California charter school files lawsuit against school district

A California school district is being sued for allegedly trying to force a charter school to close its doors. 

North Oakland Community Charter School (NOCCS) filed its suit on June 6, claiming…

A California school district is being sued for allegedly trying to force a charter school to close its doors. 

North Oakland Community Charter School (NOCCS) filed its suit on June 6, claiming Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) broke state law in a malicious attempt to terminate the charter.

“We have seen a lot of growth in student performance, staff culture, and family and community engagement,” said NOCCS Principal Jimmie Brown at a press conference about the school’s response to the district’s attempt to revoke the charter. “We are not closing and we will see you all in the fall for another fantastic year.” 

The suit complains that the OUSD “strong-armed NOCCS into a callously one-sided agreement” in 2019, taking “full advantage of the opportunity to pressure a small charter school into relinquishing any meaningful chance of survival.”  

NOCCS alleges the agreement violated state education codes regarding charter school renewal and revocation.  

However, NOCCS didn’t take action until this spring, when OUSD began its effort to force the charter to close.  

The district claims NOCCS isn’t meeting the academic requirements of its contract, even though its students perform similarly to their OUSD counterparts.  

According to California testing data, only 33% of Oakland students read at grade level, and just 25% meet standards in math.  

NOCCS’ scores are nearly identical. 

Nevertheless, OUSD wants the charter school gone – possibly because it would financially benefit the district.  

The lawsuit explains Oakland public schools were facing “declining enrollment for five consecutive years, which further exacerbated its financial woes.”  

“The closure of a public school choice like NOCCS might be motivated by OUSD’s desire to regain students and stabilize its financial situation,” the suit reads. 

Some local families are also rallying in support of the charter.  

“For those families that need something small, it works. I’m here pleading and asking you to think about what would be best for this community,” said Tina Harambe, mother of a NOCCS graduate. “Our students’ reading scores are increasing, math scores are increasing.”  

“From the day I walked into that building, I knew it was something special. We just knew that we wanted my granddaughter to attend,” added Claudette Lee, a retired principal. “We’re going to fight to keep the school open, and we don’t want to just keep it open for one year. We want this school to stay open forever.”