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School District Superintendent on Defensive Over Charter School Facilities Controversy

Alameda Unified School District Superintendent Kirsten Vital is on the defensive over charter schools. (File Photo)

Alameda Unified School District Superintendent Kirsten Vital is on the defensive over charter schools. (File Photo)

The controversy over where to locate Alameda Community Learning Center (ACLC) charter school has put Alameda Unified School District Superintendent Kirsten Vital on the defensive.

In a letter to the community released early this week, Vital wrote, “Let me say first that my staff and I support these [charter] schools. We are not trying to close them.” Rather she said, the goal is to find sufficient facilities for both ACLC and its sister school, Nea, and a restructured Wood middle school.

But it may have come too late for ACLC parents, some of whom addressed the school board on the issue Tuesday night during the public comment period, despite requests from ACLC administration to keep quiet while it works to negotiate a long-term lease with the district.

Zachary Turner, an ACLC parent, started off his comments to the board saying, “some of you may feel that charters need to be at the end of the line with any requests. I’d like you to stay mindful that ACLC is a public school with Alameda families.”

Martin Kharrazi, who has multiple children that have attended ACLC, including a current ninth grader, told the board, “I’m sure it’s easy to imagine how we’re starting to feel like second class citizens here in alameda. I know that’s not the intention, but you have to understand that actions speak louder than anything.”

He went on to say that signing a long-term agreement “would be a collaborative moment that I have yet to see strongly in our community around charter schools.”

Not everyone agrees on the solution, however.

Dr. Joyce Saad, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist who said she has been practicing for the last 29 years, and who, she said, was asked by ACLC parents to examine the impacts of a second ACLC school move in as many years, extensively cited research that shows the detrimental effects on children and adolescents of frequent changes, even positive ones, like moving schools.

“Frequent school mobility increases risk of underachievement,” she told the board.

She would like to see the school district reconsider the option of keeping ACLC at the Wood school campus and add more portables.

Separately, Katie Stewart the parent of a child at Nea, told Action Alameda News by e-mail, “I for one would be supportive of a long term lease combining both campuses at Woodstock. And I do think that calm collaboration tends to get the best results for the kids.”

In her letter to the community, Superintendent Vital had written, “I also have heard too many personal attacks throughout these conversations” and urged calm.

However, at Tuesday night’s meeting, Caprice Carter, a parent of three ACLC students, said, “the idea of having ACLC split up is like having a gun to our head. I’m asking that you respect and embrace us.”

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