Fremont school district denies Magnolia charter application
by Rebecca Parr
FREMONT -- A Southern California charter school's application to expand into Fremont was rejected Wednesday night.
"We agree with some, we disagree with others," Young said of points brought up in the staff report. She asked for time to address the district's concerns over the application.
Magnolia emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math.
The staff report did not address accusations of possible links to Gulen, an Islamic imam who stresses education and whose followers have started U.S. charter schools that focus on math and science. The Gulen movement has been investigated for possible misuse of public funds through its secular charter schools; however, Magnolia has not been linked to those investigations.
But Steve Zeltzer, of United Public Workers for Action, expressed concern that the Turkish government would have interest in a charter school application in Fremont.
"This has no place in Fremont," said Zeltzer, who spoke against the petition.
Magnolia held a single Fremont community outreach meeting before submitting the petition, the staff report said.
"Despite asserting the intent to target Latino students, its single outreach effort did not result in signatures reflecting meaningful interest in enrolling by Latino students," the staff report said.
hat single meeting was at the Islamic Center of Fremont, said John Martin, of Amsterdam & Partners, a Washington, D.C., law firm representing the Turkish government. He said his firm was hired to investigate the Gulen movement, and that led him to Magnolia Public Schools.
Young said in an interview that Magnolia was approached by some Fremont parents seeking school alternatives.
The staff report said the petition is "not realistic" in indicating it will reach out to low-income families while also saying it will not provide transportation to and from school except for students with special needs.
"The lack of transportation likely creates a barrier to enrollment for low-income students whose parents may not be in a position to transport them to and from school every day, whether due to lack of personal transportation, work schedules, competing child care needs or other reasons," the report read.
The petition was not tailored to Fremont, but was a stock form presented to several districts to allow Magnolia to expand, according to the staff report.
Magnolia can appeal Fremont's denial of its application to the Alameda County Office of Education board.