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Ex-LAUSD board president Young taking over Magnolia charters

Vanessa Romo | January 8, 2015



Caprice Young

Caprice Young

* UPDATED

Magnolia Public Schools, which has fought bitterly with the LA Unified school board to keep several of its schools open, has turned to an old LAUSD hand to take over its leadership.

Caprice Young, a long-time education reform advocate and former school board president has been named Magnolia’s new Chief Executive Officer.

Young confirmed her appointment in a text message to LA School Report.

Young served four years on the LA Unified school board, from 1999 to 2003, and worked closely with then superintendent Roy Romer in helping the district make gains in student achievement and in launching an ambitious program of school facilities renewal. She served as board president in her last two years.

During her first year on the board, Young and her colleagues launched a complete overhaul of the district’s organizational structure.

Young plans to continuing working part-time through April in her current post as President of the National Charter Resource Center. Then, she intends to start full-time with Magnolia, which operates 11 schools across the state. Many of them have been subject to recent scrutiny over management practices.

But her resume could serve as a chronology of the education reform movement, making her an ideal choice to lead the group. After leaving the district, she founded the California Charter Schools Association and served as its first president. It has grown to become one of nation’s most powerful state associations and accelerated the growth of charter schools throughout the state.

Following that, she moved into the business of technology in education, reformists’ cause du jour these days.

Young’s name was first floated by Magnolia consultants and advisors as a possible candidate for the position in mid-December, Magnolia spokesman Mike MeCey told LA School Report.

“She is very dynamic and what she’s done is very impressive,” MeCey said, adding that Young’s history with the district will be a boon for the charter school group.

“Her experience can only improve communications between Magnolia and the board,” he said.

In late June, the school board moved to close two of the organization’s eight charter schools in LA Unified — Magnolia Science Academy 6 in Palms and Magnolia Science Academy 7 in Van Nuys — for fiscal mismanagement and a slew of other accounting irregularities. Magnolia took LA Unified to court, and a judge overturned the board’s decision ruling that the two schools could remain open under certain conditions.

One stipulated that the parent company could no longer do business for the two schools with its primary educational service vendor, a non-profit called Accord Institute for Education Research. It had to maintain a 5 percent cash reserve for each of its charter schools and cannot engage in deficit spending; and Magnolia had to provide the district with monthly updates of the the charter schools’ profit and loss statements, balance sheets, cash flow and bank statements, check registers, and expense reports.

Magnolia complied but that didn’t restore the district’s faith in the groups accounting practices.

In November, the board voted unanimously to deny the renewal for Magnolia Science Academy Bell. Members rejected the school’s five-year renewal application based on a report by the district Inspector General that found the charter management group is “fiscally insolvent.”

Jerry Simmons, a lawyer representing the school, pleaded with the board to keep it open. “As of this morning, Magnolia has $9,462,000 in its bank account,” he contended.

The closure of the South LA school at the end of the school year brings the number of Magnolia campuses under the purview of LA Unified to seven.


*Clarifies timing of her move to Magnolia.

 

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