PACOIMA — A vote on whether to remove Vaughn Street School from Los Angeles school district control has been delayed a week in a dispute over last-minute details, a development that has angered teachers and administrators on campus.
The school board was to vote today on a proposal to turn Vaughn Street into a charter school, which would give teachers and campus administrators virtual autonomy over curriculum, staffing and finances.
But district officials decided to postpone the vote for a week so they could more carefully analyze questions about the school's initial funding, union representation for staff members and whether the campus will be adequately insured.
Vaughn Street teachers accused the district of dragging its feet. "I think they are just jerking us around so we won't have time to set up all the things we need to," said teacher Stephanie Moore.
Campus officials had wanted to begin operating as a charter school by July 1 after teachers and administrators voted earlier this year to break away. Under a state law that took effect Jan. 1, 100 schools throughout the state are allowed to break away from their districts and become exempt from state education regulations.
The aim of the law is to improve student achievement through innovations that might otherwise be hampered or prohibited by the California Education Code. Several other schools in the city also have applications pending before the board.
Under the terms of the law, the district must consider the proposal within 60 days after the school's application unless both sides agree to a delay. Next week's hearing will fall after that deadline.
But Vaughn Street leaders grudgingly agreed to the delay because their only recourse would have been to appeal to county education officials, who have 30 days to consider the matter.
"We had to ask ourselves if we were willing to exchange 30 days for four days," Vaughn Street Principal Yvonne Chan said.
District officials denied that they were delaying the school's application unnecessarily. "This has to be given serious treatment," said Joe Rao, administrative coordinator for the district's office of instruction. "If I had asked for a two-month review, I could understand. But four days?"
Rao said the district remains concerned about the costs and risks involved in transferring district responsibilities such as payroll, insurance and personnel matters to the campus. "We want to make sure everybody understands what their responsibilities will be," he said. "We want to make sure everything is in its place."
But Chan said Vaughn Street teachers and administrators understand what their responsibilities will be because they wrote the school's 40-page charter.
"We wrote every single word of the charter," she said. "We didn't buy it or borrow it from somebody. We are the creators of the charter, so don't tell us we don't understand it."