A local charter school's effort to investigate allegations that its staff cheated during standardized testing in spring is under fire from the Capistrano Unified School District, which has launched its own probe and questioned the objectivity of the school's investigation.
In correspondence obtained by Patch between the school district and Oxford Preparatory Academy, Capo Superintendent Joe Farley sternly urges OPA chief Sue Roche not to hire a third-party investigator but join the district’s investigation.
“I’m sorry I have to resort to very direct language, but because of your adamant comments about your authority to manage your charter school without oversight of the district, I feel I must specifically direct you not to initiate a second investigation into the allegations of misconduct, and to engage in the one that is going to be done by the district,” Farley wrote to Roche on Oct. 3.
Farley wrote that if OPA did not cooperate with the district, he would be forced to seek help from county and state education department officials.
He added: “It is clearly in the interest of all parties that one fully independent investigation be conducted that may not be influenced by the persons who are being investigated."
Patch compiled this timeline of events based upon several letters between OPA and the school district:
- Oct. 1: Farley phones Roche to discuss accusations of misconduct at OPA during the Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR, exams. He emphasizes it’s the district’s responsibility to investigate the claims.
- Oct. 2: Noting the school district had hired its own investigator, Roche writes back that OPA is within its rights to investigate the matter itself.
- Oct. 3: Farley demands OPA cooperate with the district’s investigation. He also says it would be inappropriate for OPA directors to discuss the allegations or the hiring of an investigator in closed session. That same day, however, the Oxford Board of Directors meets in closed session to discuss the matter and hires a San Diego law firm to conduct the independent review.
- Oct. 4: OPA’s attorney introduces himself to the district and requests cooperation with his firm's investigation. He also says OPA would not make teachers or students available to the district-hired investigator.
- Oct. 7: A political blog cites unnamed sources who claim OPA discouraged lower-achieving students from taking the STAR tests.
None of the letters described the alleged misconduct in any detail.
Efforts to reach CUSD's attorney and Roche went unanswered.