By Tasion Kwamilele
Leaders of American Indian Model Schools (AIMS) – which houses 1,200 elementary, middle, and high school students – have announced they will take their appeal to the state after the Alameda County Board of Education Tuesday night upheld the Oakland school district’s decision to close down their school.
The county board’s 5-1 vote was based on financial allegations against the charter school, which outweighed the arguments that emphasized the academic success and national honors the school has acquired over recent years.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday morning in downtown Oakland, AIMS Director Nabeehah Shakir said she was frustrated about the decision.
While there was a “possible reason for (the complaints) in the beginning,” she said, they have now all been responded to or refuted.
“We’ve done everything they’ve asked us to do. They asked to change our policies [and] we did that; to change our board, we did that,” Shakir said. “Alameda County found that most of the allegations were not substantial. So what went wrong? ”
“Politics,” she said.
Traditional public schools are losing the battle for students and funding and are therefore opposed to charter schools, she said.
AIMS is appealing to the state, but it can take until March of next year before a decision is made.
“What parent will put their child in a school that will close in March?” Shakir asked, noting that half of the school’s parents had already enrolled their children in other schools for the upcoming school year.
School supporter Carl Chan backs AIMS even though he does not have children attending the school. He points to the school’s academic success – being listed as the #1 high school in the nation according to the Washington Post.
He also says OUSD mishandled the procedure from the beginning, prematurely telling parents to look for other schools for their children, even before the official hearing.
“This is more about politics than anything else,” Chan said.
While waiting for the appeal, AIMS supporters are hoping Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo – who issued a restraining order allowing the school to stay open until July 8 – will grant a preliminary injunction to keep the school open until the end of the 2014 school year.