Administrators of Temecula Preparatory School were dealt another blow Wednesday in their effort to open a similar campus in Menifee.
The Riverside County Board of Education denied Heritage Classical Charter Schools’ appeal of the Menifee Union School District’s previous denial of its petition for Menifee Valley Preparatory School.
The board delivered its decision following a public hearing held Wednesday in Riverside.
“Being that they came to us on appeal, we were very much bounded by the proposal they submitted to Menifee Union,” said Elizabeth Romero, president of the Riverside County Board of Education, in a phone interview Thursday.
Romero said the board agreed with RCOE staff who had conducted “extensive review” of the petition.
“The charter did not meet all the provisions for a sound educational program,” Romero said. “A couple of areas that were lacking especially were an effective educational plan for English-language learners and students from low socioeconomic households.”
Because charter schools are public and receive per pupil state education funding that would otherwise go to their local school district, they are required to receive approval from that district. A charter may also be approved by a county office of education.
“As a board we are looking to provide the best educational programs for all students in Riverside County, and just like districts, charters should be held to the highest standards and that means all students,” Romero said.
The board’s decision will not deter Heritage Classical Charter Schools from taking the necessary avenues to ultimately open the school, Headmaster Scott Phillips told Patch.
“We are going to redo the charter,” Phillips said. “The board asked us to be more specific in our petition, they want more definition of our program because it is a unique program,” Phillips said. “They expressed the fact that they have had other charters come in make verbal promises."
Plans are to resubmit the revised charter in February, but whether that will be to Menifee Union or to the county for a countywide charter is a decision that will be made within the next week or so, he said.
“We are still on the timeline to open the school in August 2014, it wasn’t like a shut door; it was more like the door is open you just need to make these changes,” Phillips said.
According to Denee Burns, director of development for Heritage Classical Charter Schools, a group of about 40 to 45 parents and students with hopes of registering for Menifee Valley Preparatory School attended the Riverside hearing to show their support.
Temecula Prep's Winchester campus is chartered under the Temecula Valley Unified School District. The K-12 is full with an enrollment of 1,045 students this year.
The result is sizable waiting list to get in, so its administrators are seeking to open Menifee Valley Prep as a K-8. The Menifee campus would eventually be expanded to a K-12.
One of the parents who spoke during Wednesday’s hearing is the mother of a 5-year-old who lives in Menifee and wants her son to attend the school.
“I have always been interested in Temecula Preparatory School and applied for it for my son but didn't get in," Blessing Okoro told Patch.
Okoro, who holds a doctorate and works locally as a mental health professional, said a parent’s choice is “very important” when it comes to education.
She said she seeks a classical education—a return to grammar, logic and rhetoric taught in the proper developmental stages—for her son, which is what she understands Menifee Valley Prep would offer.
“A lot of us parents are 100 percent behind this school,” Okoro said. “Our children’s growth and development is very important.”
Okoro is among 400 people on an email list for the proposed school, according to Burns.
“We also have 300 on Facebook, and over 300 preliminary applications filed for a school that doesn’t exist. We have huge interest,” Burns said. “They are telling us they want us to press forward.”