CARLSBAD, Calif. - A group of Carlsbad parents refuses to take no for an answer. The Carlsbad Unified School Board voted against the charter school they were trying to start, so the parents appealed the decision to the San Diego County Board of Education, which will take up the matter Wednesday evening.
"They have a science lab with a science teacher. They have a music room. They have an art program. They have a full-time PE teacher," said Amy Hagen, a Carlsbad mother of three. "They offer all of the programs that our schools are cutting."
Hagen and other parent volunteers said they visited Oxford Preparatory Academy's locations in Orange and San Bernardino Counties and were impressed with the learning environment.
"This is a choice that we believe would be a better fit for our families, for our kids and the kids in the community," said Jackie Howe, who is pushing for the charter school – referred to as OPA – even though she and her four children live in Oceanside.
The parents say the state of California already gave the proposed charter an operating grant, and feel that kind of approval should have been also granted by Carlsbad Unified, but the district determined the proposed school was deficient in eight of the areas required by the state of California.
Carlsbad Unified Superintendent of Schools Suzette Lovely told 10News, "We have a great district here, and a school board that believes in choice for families."
Lovely disputed the parents' claims that the district tried to intimidate the 600-plus families who signed a form expressing interest in having the option of a charter school for their children.
"The school district clearly has their (sic) own agenda, at this point," said Hagen. "I felt that coming to Carlsbad school district would be open-minded, the board seemed to me to be rational thinkers… what's turned out is they have their own agenda to keep this out. Part of that is to show that we have no community support, so by intimidation, by taking away our rights as parents to be able to say that we want a better opportunity, a better education in our district, they've taken that from us."
Another group is also coming forward in support of the proposed charter. It consists of professional athletes who are friends of the charter school founder's son, Brian Roche.
"In order for us to be better, we need to be challenged in our daily lives," said former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia, who is the father of four children under the age of 5. "Why not bring a school in that is bringing the best of the best to the table and challenge everybody around you?"
Garcia said Oxford Preparatory Academy would raise the bar for other schools in San Diego County, and although he does not live in the Carlsbad Unified district, he said he would consider enrolling his children in OPA if it becomes a reality.
Roche claims former Padres player Trevor Hoffman is also in favor of OPA, as is former major-leaguer Mike Sweeney and several members of the Chargers football team.
Supporters of OPA plan to make a presentation to the County Board of Education in the hope that its members will overrule Carlsbad Unified's decision and let the Oxford Preparatory Academy move forward.