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Charter School Stonewalls on Public Records Request

Community Learning Center Schools officials are stonewalling on a public records request in the wake of the termination of Nea founder Maafi Gueye. (Nea)

Community Learning Center Schools officials are stonewalling on a public records request in the wake of the termination of Nea founder Maafi Gueye. (Nea)

Officials at Community Learning Center Schools, the non-profit public benefit corporation that is the parent of Nea and Alameda Community Learning Center (ACLC) public charter schools, are stonewalling on a public records request in the wake of a controversy of the termination of two Nea administrators.

The schools are bound by their charter with the Alameda Unified School District to adhere to the California Public Records Act.

At the height of a controversy that ultimately saw Nea Lead Facilitator Maafi Gueye terminated, along with another Nea administrator, Action Alameda News submitted, on April 20th, a public records request for “Copies of all written complaints submitted to the CLCS board from facilitators, or CLCS, Nea, ACLC employees, whether they be facilitators or administrative staff, and from parents, between October 1, 2013 and April 20, 2014.”

Various sources had told Action Alameda News that there were a number of written complaints filed with the board in the months leading up to the eruption of the firing controversy.

Compounding the controversy, rumors abounded. One source told Action Alameda News that CLCS Executive Director Patti Wilczek had given Ms. Gueye, an African American woman, a copy of the book, “Twelve Years a Slave,” and had given no copies to any other staff. The same rumor was posted to a Google groups forum for Nea parents. (Update: May 14, 6:00 p.m. – a CLCS staffer called Action Alameda News to confirm this point, and that Ms. Wilczek handed the book to Ms. Gueye in the presence of several staffers.)

Action Alameda News attempted to get to the bottom of at least some of the complaints, many of which are noted in CLCS board meeting minutes, without the text of the complaint, by making a public records request.

Normally, agencies bound by the public records act have 10 days to produce the documents requested, or provide a written explanation for denying the production of records, citing statutory exemptions.

On April 29th, a representative from the law offices of Young, Minney & Corr, in Sacramento, responded with a letter, identifying the firm as general counsel for CLCS saying that the expected to provide responsive documents today.

Today, Action Alameda News received a letter from the same firm, saying that no written complaints would be released, saying that CLCS “has also determined that the request seeks records that are exempt from disclosure as they pertain to pending litigation or claims. (Govt. Code § 6254(b)).”

Additionally, in refusing records of written complaints to the board, CLCS attorneys cited exemptions based on personnel privacy matters, personally identifiable student information, “provisions of the evidence code related to privilege” and said that “the disclosure of these records would also constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy and the public interest served by not disclosing the records clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the records.”

The attorney closed by writing, “CLCS fully intends to remain transparent in all of its operations and will comply with your request, insofar as it is obligated under the Public Records Act.”

2 comments to Charter School Stonewalls on Public Records Request

  • Daniel Davenport

    Amazing article. I love Nea. I love education, but the article is intriguing. I went in yesterday to request disclosure of CLCS’ Internal Revenue Service 990 and 1023 tax forms for 2011-2013 and I was unsuccessful. I reached out to Edtec next for the records. Between both organizations, I hope at least one complies. It is a little disappointing to see words which state CLCS are committed to transparency, but engage in actions which are contradictory!

    Lastly, the details about the slave book are mind blowing. We need more diversity and oversight at Nea, in my opinion.

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