Districts and charters disagree all the time, and the battles can often turn nasty. But a coup? Last Tuesday, district officials from Sacramento Unified (and their security guards) arrived at the campus of the city's Visual and Performing Arts Charter School (VAPAC) and placed the principal and office manager on administrative leave. The district-which can hire and fire VAPAC's staff-has been angered by the school's longstanding refusal to address district charges that its finances are in disarray and that it doesn't pay attention to student safety. VAPAC suggested arbitration; the district attempted to forcibly insert a new principal. The school has filed a restraining order (recently upheld by a superior court judge), converted its campus to a "gated" community, and hired a private security service to protect it from the district. Wow. Gadfly can't say whether Sacramento Unified's accusations are well-founded, but this much we are sure of: Military posturing makes for exciting news headlines, but it can't be good for VAPAC's students.
"Judge tells Sac City to reinstate head of charter school," by Laurel Rosenhall, Sacramento Bee, March 7, 2006
"Charter school, district head for court showdown," by Crystal Carreon and Elizabeth Hume, Sacramento Bee, March 4, 2006