|Slap on Wrist or Decertification for Crescendo?|
Crescendo Charter Schools, embroiled in a scandal over it administration’s mandate for teachers to cheat on state standardized exams, has fired its founder, John Allen, and threatened to sue Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in order to keep its six schools open. Last week, the Los Angeles School Board voted to close the schools. John Allen had ordered principals at the schools to require teachers to open the sealed exams in advance and allow students to study them before taking the exams in earnest. Several teachers risked retaliatory actions and reported the corruption to authorities.
Crescendo had been making miraculous, unbelievable gains on its exam scores, which had originally prompted LAUSD to recertify their charter. However, when it became clear that faculty had cheated, these miraculous gains became suspect. As a result of the cheating, there was no way to know if Crescendo had been making any real progress at all.
Anthony Handy, chair of the Crescendo governing board criticized LAUSD for “acting prematurely,” and in violation of California’s open meeting law (the decision to revoke all six charter was not included in the board’s published meeting agenda). One should wonder why Crescendo should get a second chance? They initially gave Allen a slap on the wrist (a six-month suspension, with his job preserved for him upon his return) and the guilty principals only received ten-day suspensions. It seems that LAUSD is only guilty of waiting too long to revoke their charter and doing so only after public outrage became more damaging than the guilty administrators.
In a calculated and cynical move, incoming LAUSD superintendent John Deasy lauded the firing of Allen, saying it was “a long time coming.” Deasy was hand-picked for the job of superintendent by pro-charter school billionaires and had served as head schools official at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a pro-charter school philanthropy. Deasy’s criticism was damage control, an attempt to show that the system is self-correcting and fair, that charter schools are essentially wholesome and good, and the occasional bad eggs are quickly removed.