Imagine School supporters attend ICOE meeting
EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Office of Education is planning a public hearing for March 28 to discuss Imagine School Imperial Valley’s appeal of the recent denial to renew the campus’ charter.
The public hearing will be one of two special ICOE board meetings scheduled in connection to the matter. A second meeting will be convened shortly after to allow the ICOE board to possibly vote on authorizing Imagine School’s charter renewal.
The ICOE board also has the option of not taking any action on the anticipated appeal, thereby prompting the state Board of Education to take up the issue, said ICOE Superintendent Todd Finnell during ICOE’s regular board meeting Tuesday.
In the meantime, a team of ICOE officials will conduct a review of Imagine School Imperial Valley’s (ISIV) operations and academic performance, which were heavily criticized by the El Centro Elementary School District during its Jan. 31 vote to deny ISIV’s
“The best way to get to know us is to come to our school.”
Tomas Sanchez, ISIV assistant principal
five-year charter renewal.
State education code allows a charter school to appeal a denial of its charter to its supervisory agency, ICOE, as well as the state Board of Education should its initial appeal fail.
The ICOE board is expected to be provided an update at its March 12 meeting regarding the recently modified tools to be used for ICOE’s review of ISIV, Finnell said.
Imagine School has until March 2 to submit its appeal of its charter’s denial to ICOE, which in turn is provided 60 days to review and make a decision.
Should the ICOE board vote to deny the appeal, or take no action, ISIV would then have until April 2 to appeal to the state in order to possibly be granted authority to remain open in the coming fall, Finnell said.
Although ISIV has yet to file its appeal with ICOE, several of the campus’ supporters addressed the ICOE board during the meeting’s public comment period on Tuesday.
ISIV Assistant Principal Tomas Sanchez extended an open invitation to the ICOE board members in the hope they could observe the school’s academic and extracurricular activities firsthand.
“The best way to get to know us is to come to our school,” Sanchez said.
Principal and Valley native Grace Jiminez said she understands the importance of educating local children and providing parents with educational alternatives, a point that was further emphasized by information technology specialist Larry Valenzuela.
“It is because parents exercise their school choice that we have their children attend Imagine School,” Valenzuela said.
El Centro resident and Imagine School parent Jackee Lopez told the board about the trouble she previously had in Nevada and locally finding the right educational environment for her special needs child.
A chance encounter had led her to Imagine School, where Lopez said her son — who was nonverbal — has shown significant academic progress.
“My son right now speaks Spanish and English,” she said.
ISIV special education teacher Cecilia Fragoso also spoke about the administrative support provided to special education faculty in their efforts to work with parents to promote both English and Spanish among special needs students
“I think the work that we have accomplished with our special education is wonderful,” Fragoso said.
Similar supportive remarks were shared with the ECESD board during its Jan. 31 meeting prior to its voting to deny the charter’s renewal. Ultimately, the ECESD board relied on a report citing the campus’ poor academic performance in its decision to deny the charter’s renewal.
That report highlighted the fact that approximately 75 percent of ISIV students did not meet English Language Arts standards and 88 percent did not meet mathematics standards last year.