The district school board voted unanimously to close the Imagine School Charter due to poor academic performance.


“The El Centro Elementary School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to deny Imagine School Imperial Valley’s petition to renew its charter, citing the charter school’s failure to meet academic requirements.

“The vote came during a special meeting that drew an overcapacity crowd of ISIV personnel and supporters, many of whom were visibly saddened by the board’s decision.

“Following the meeting, Imagine School Principal Grace Jiminez said that the school would appeal the board’s decision to the Imperial County Office of Education.

Jiminez also expressed frustration that the ECESD board had limited the amount of time that the charter school’s supporters had to speak during the meeting’s public comment session.

“Between all of these people, we were only able to speak for 30 minutes and that’s unfortunate because we have a large community here that wants to be here to say what they feel,” she said.

“Yet, remarks made by board members prior to the vote raises doubts whether any additional public comments in support of Imagine Schools would have persuaded them to vote otherwise.

Although they acknowledged the familial atmosphere that the Imagine School campus community enjoys, board members were explicit about their concerns that the campus’ academic program was placing students at risk.
Ultimately, the board appeared to have come to their decision with the assistance of a 21-page report prepared by district staff which recommended the charter renewal’s denial and that cited a number of deficiencies with Imagine’s governance, academic progress, corporate structure and teachers’ credentialing.
“Every decision that we make is made in what’s in the best interest of our students,” said Trustee Michael Minnix.
Trustee George McFaddin said that it would be wrong to suggest that the district was not generally supportive of charter schools, and highlighted the fact that ECESD now has three separate charter schools

ECESD board denies Imagine School’s charter renewal – Imperial Valley…… operating within the district.

“We’ve embraced them more than any other district in the Valley,” he said.

Yet, he too cited Imagine School’s poor academic performance in comparison to ECESD and the county as the reason for his choosing to ultimately vote how he did.

“You still haven’t reached that magic number that we need,” McFaddin said. “The figures here tonight shows that, that is not happening.”

“Some of those figures 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.
In comparison, 40 percent met or exceeded ELA standards and 31 percent met or exceeded mathematics standards in the El Centro Elementary School District, according to the ECESD report regarding ISIV’s petition for charter renewal.

“During the 2015-2016 school year, 81 percent of ISIV students did not meet English Language Arts standards and 86 percent of students attending did not meet mathematics standards.

“During the same school year, 37 percent of students met or exceeded ELA standards and 28 percent met or exceeded mathematics standards in the El Centro Elementary School District, the report stated.
One of the many criteria that a supervisory board must consider when deciding whether to grant a charter school’s petition for a renewed charter is whether its academic standards are on par with those of the district, or districts, from which it draws its students.

“My biggest concern is the fact that you’re not growing academically,” said Trustee Frances Terrazas.
A common refrain among board members was how often they reportedly hear from community members and educators that Imagine students that transfer to another district often are a grade level or two behind.”

Imagine charters are known for making profits from real estate and dealing with related companies.

The company can bow appeal the decision to the county board of education. If unsuccessful, they can appeal to the state board.