Op-Ed: OUSD Superintendent Corrects “Miscommunication” on Charter Schools

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By Supt. Antwan Wilson

 

I’m writing to you today to provide you an update on enrollment and to ensure you have access to accurate information related to our public schools.

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We recently published the Enrollment Options Guide for the 2016-2017 school year. This is an important milestone as it marks the beginning of the enrollment season for next year. For the first time, the guide includes descriptions of every public school in Oakland, whether district-run or charter-run.

 

We know that parents in Oakland have students in Oakland Unified district-run and charter schools, and we believe it is equitable to provide information on all of our public schools so that parents can make the best, informed decisions for their family.

 

 

There is an important correction to the guide that I must clarify. All district-run and charter-run schools serve special education and English Language Learners. I point this out to you as a correction because during an internal editing process, labels were changed, and some district and charter schools that do not have special day classes or pullout English development programs were erroneously listed as not having any special education services or programs for English Language Learner students.

 

Let me be very clear: All public schools, whether they are district-run or charter-run, have a legal obligation to serve all students. All district-run and charter-run schools serve children with special needs and English Language Learners. Schools may do it differently, and there is certainly variation among district schools as well as between district and charter schools, but they all must provide these services, and, again, they do.

 

It is important that I use this opportunity to highlight the legal and moral obligation that all public schools have to serve all students. It’s also important for me to provide factual information and clear up misunderstandings that may have been created as a result of the mistake in the guide. As a school district, we have a commitment to ensuring a level playing field among schools – district and charter alike – and we are working on that.

 

We will be launching an Oakland Public Schools Equity Pledge process early next year, and this will be the forum for helping us ensure a level playing field among all of our public schools.

 

To clear up the confusion, we have corrected the online version of the guide. We are also creating a fact-sheet insert, and we will be placing signage at the Student Assignment Center that notes the correction.

 

As an Accountable School District, we value empowering families with the information they need to make important decisions. We also own our mistakes. I apologize for the mistake in the guide. We are getting it cleared up and hope that others will join us in sharing the correct information rather than perpetuating the miscommunication

 

You can find more information on our website: www.ousd.org/enrollment. We hope this provides an opportunity to continue an honest, facts-based discussion around district and charter schools, which we will be continuing in January with the launch of the Oakland Public School Equity Pledge.

 

Antwan Wilson is the superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District.

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