American Indian Charter School Wins Legal Fight to Stay Open


The future of American Indian Model Schools (AIMS), in doubt for months after its charter was revoked last year by the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), will be to re-main open, an Alameda County judge has ruled.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ruled last month that the school district, board of education and former Superintendent Tony Smith “applied the wrong standard of law when it revoked” the school’s charter, the Oakland Tribune reported.

“We are now operating under accepted business procedures – we hired the Charter School Management Corporation (CSMC) to help us with our operations,” said Alice Spearman, secretary of the school’s Board of Directors and former District 7 school board member.

“We are totally separate from the founder (Ben Chavis),” she said. “He does not have any influence over our operating procedures in any way.”

During its legal turmoil, the school lost students because many parents feared it would shut down. But “surprisingly, a lot of them have been coming back,” Spearman said.

“When school starts in August, we will be full. We’ll even add an extra kindergarten class.”

The district decided to revoke the charter in 2013 based on allegations that Chavis, AIMS founder, used the school’s contracts to direct $3.8 million to himself, though these allegations have not been proven.

The kindergarten to 12th grade school is known for its high academic performance. In 2012, the middle school had the highest Academic Performance Index in Alameda County and was also the fourth highest performing middle school in the state, Judge Grillo said.

Test scores also showed that AIMS students outperformed OUSD students at the same grade level in math. According to reports, Judge Grillo said that the Oakland school district did not consider the school’s academic performance in revoking the charter, which is required by state education law. The school district has said it is disappointed at the judge’s July 17 ruling but has not decided what to do next


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