A photo of the Jurupa Unified School District Board of Education during the Dec. 12, 2023 meeting.
The Jurupa Unified School District Board of Education Monday unanimously voted to deny a petition for a new charter school in the district. (Screenshot/Jurupa Unified School District via YouTube)

The Jurupa Unified School District Board of Education Monday voted unanimously to deny the petition filed by former NFL player Jordan Campbell and entrepreneur Teague Egan to establish the Institute of Human Development (IHD) charter school in the district.

“The charter review committee found several significant deficiencies, legal deficiencies and just content deficiencies, in the charter petition after having gone through this very careful review,” Dina Harris, attorney for the district, said. “One of the proposed findings is that the petitioners failed to submit the legally required information in connection with a petition.”

That missing information included the proposed location for the school, a proposed budget for the next three years and the proposed governing board members and their qualifications since it was indicated in the application that the school was going to be run by a nonprofit organization.

Harris also said the committee found that the school as planned was, “demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the petition,” due to that lack of information.

“There also was a concern of a lack of expertise in operating either charter school or even a public school,” she said. “So, as you all know, it is complicated and complex to operate a public school, there’s a lot of laws that apply, there’s implementation issues, and that just seemed to be missed throughout this document, so that was one of the concerns as well.”

There were also issues with potential conflicts of interest, an “unsound educational program” for enrolled students and questions about the level of support for actually enrolling students in the school, Harris said.

However, Jubani Estrada, legal counsel for the proposed charter school, said the concerns highlighted by Harris had already been addressed with supplemental information provided to the district including potential sites for the school as well as clarification of the school’s proposed budget and the potential conflict of interest.

“We understand you had many documents to review by the petitioner, the district and our reply,” he said. “If there are any concerns from any of your board members, you are free to ask us for any questions to address those issues.”

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Estrada also said the IHD team had not been made aware of the “exhaustive list of concerns,” but that the team had been “more than reasonable” in reaching out to the district and asking what the review committee needed from them in order to recommend approving the charter petition.

“We reached out plenty of times, we asked if you needed more time,” he said. “They said, ‘No, we don’t need more time,’ so we’re asking you to approve our charter.”

As for concerns about the charter school’s potential curriculum, former Jurupa Unified School District teacher Ed Luna said IHD planned to use Imagine Edgenuity, an online-based educational resource he said was already being used in the district.

“So I found it odd when they said there was no services or the educational program wouldn’t work, but it’s the same one being used in this district,” he said.

After a series of questions from the board including how the proposed charter would fulfill its mission of serving students from disadvantaged backgrounds, meet state education standards to ensure students are college ready and be able to hire highly qualified educators with the proposed budget, the board opened up the public hearing.

The first speaker, NEA-Jurupa President David O’Rafferty, recommended that the board deny the petition as presented falls “tragically short” of meeting the district’s obligation to provide students with a free appropriate public education.

“The Institute for Human Development knows just enough to be dangerous, but they don’t begin to know the extent to which they are unprepared to provide the education our students deserve,” he said. “It’s not acceptable for our children to sacrifice their education so this charter can begin to learn just how much they don’t know.”

Former Jurupa Valley Mayor Anthony Kelly Jr. spoke in favor of the proposed charter school, imploring the board to hold a public workshop before making a final determination on the petition — a proposal echoed by Egan.

“There are so many kids that are going to benefit from this school, and we’re going to make it incredible,” he said. “So today, I would ask that you at least, at the very least, do what Anthony asked, and let us have an open workshop, and at the best, I would ask that you contingently approve it so that we can go execute on some of these things that were mentioned.”

Ultimately, the board voted unanimously to deny the petition and adopt the findings of fact by the charter review committee.

“I just want to thank all parties involved, that have invested a lot of time preparing,” Trustee Melissa Ragole said. “I know, ultimately, all of our focus is student success, so I know that there has been countless hours and meetings and online communication, so I want to thank you to our district, as well as Jordan Campbell and your team for all of the efforts to really, you know, try to come up with a plan.”

In other board action: The board voted unanimously to appoint Board Clerk Joseph Navarro to the position of board president and Trustee Eric Ditwiler was appointed board clerk for the next year.

A video of the meeting can be found here on the district’s YouTube page.

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.