It was billed as a casual coffee meeting between parents, teachers, and the superintendent of the Desert Sands Unified School District. In reality, it turned out to be much more than that as concerned parents sounded off about the fate of their children’s school.
Parent Jana Johnson says, “It’s been on my mind almost everyday since we heard about it and we’re afraid.” Afraid because parents and teachers say they’re unsure if Palm Desert Charter Middle School will stay the same.
“The teachers have sort of heard rumors about the Desert Sands Unified School District not renewing the charter at Palm Desert Charter Middle School, the thing that sets us a part,” says teacher Alex Napier.
But the superintendent for the district says it’s normal. Every five years, charter school’s contracts are up for review.
Desert Sands Unified School District Superintendent Scott Bailey says, “The district as the authorizers, and the charter school and its governance board, are working to negotiate the terms of the charter. Ultimately, this package if you will, will go to the school board to desert sands school board to consider for approval as a renewal.”
But there’s no guarantee. “We’ve all been blind sided that this is even up for discussion. My biggest concern is that the whole atmosphere of the school is going to change,” says Johnson.
“If they refused to renew our charter, we’d go back to the district and become a regular school. We just lose our autonomy and flexibility,” says Napier.
But the big question is, do they hope to keep it a charter school?
Bailey says, “there’s no intent for it not to be a charter school. There’s every intent for the charter to be legally compliant.”
Teachers and parents just want it to stay the same. “Happy, smart kids go to Palm Desert Charter and we don’t want to change our formula because it’s working,” says Napier.
The date to renew is later in June.