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AMADOR COUNTY COMMUNITY SCHOOL
(COURT SCHOOL)

REASON FOR REVIEW

The Grand Jury was approached by members of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission concerning the operation and condition of the Amador County Community School (ACCS), also known as the Court School.

BACKGROUND

It is important citizens are aware there are two separate offices operating from the Amador County Unified School District (ACUSD) facility. One is ACUSD, and the other is the Amador County Office of Education (ACOE). ACOE has jurisdiction over alternative schools, such as ACCS, and special education programs. ACUSD controls all other schools within the County. The Superintendent of ACUSD also serves as the Superintendent of ACOE. Each has its own separate budget.

In the early 1980's, Assembly Bill 90 was approved providing funds for the Department of Education to create court schools. Previously, court schools were only in juvenile halls. The court school system was funded by the legislature specifically to provide special services as part of the State's overall education and delinquency prevention/intervention program. It wasn't until the early 1990's that ACUSD took advantage of AB-90 and created a court school system.

ACCS receives students through the Student Attendance Review Board (SARB), Amador County Probation, and ACUSD expulsion referrals. It is the job of ACCS to help students continue to work toward earning their diploma while being taken out of the regular curriculum.

ACOE receives approximately $2,500 more Average Daily Attendance (ADA) money per student, per year, than ACUSD receives for a student enrolled in regular school. Annual ADA funds for a community school student are approximately $7,600. The funds are prorated according to the student's length of stay in the ACCS system.

When ACCS started, it was an integral part of the Independence High School (IHS) campus. The ACCS room simply served as a homeroom for those students who were designated as ACCS students. The ACCS students rotated to other classrooms in the same manner as the IHS students.

This arrangement worked until IHS moved to its current location on Independence Drive. After the move, the ACCS students were housed in one portable classroom on the IHS campus and no longer rotated to other classrooms.

During this time, the State Office of Education decided court schools should be housed in separate facilities, apart from regular educational campuses. Further, funding was to be kept separate, and staff would have to work for the ACOE instead of ACUSD.

In January 1998, ACOE entered into a six-month agreement with a private owner to lease property adjacent to IHS. The current lease agreement is on a month-to-month basis at $1,350 per month.

The IHS principal remained in charge of ACCS. However, funds continued to be co-mingled with ACUSD funds.

At the beginning of the 1999-2000 school year, a new, part-time ( 1/3 of the salary paid from ACOE funds) ACUSD administrator was assigned to oversee ACCS. Presently, staff at ACCS consists of one part-time principal, one full-time teacher (this position has been vacant since November, 1999 due to illness), one full-time substitute teacher, one Instructional Aide and one Secretary. A Probation Aide was assigned in March, 2000, and a Mental Health Counselor was assigned on April 25, 2000.

ACCS enrollment averages 10 to 18 students who attend school from 8:25 am to 12:36 pm.

METHODOLOGY

Persons interviewed:

  1. Superintendent of Schools
  2. Assistant Superintendent of Schools
  3. Chief Business Official
  4. Principal
  5. Teacher
  6. Substitute teachers
  7. Secretary
  8. Instructional Aide
  9. Chief Probation Officer
  10. Former Chief Probation Officer
  11. Director of Maintenance
  12. Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission members
  13. Students

Documents examined:

  1. 1999-2000 ACCS Budget
  2. 1999-2000 ACCS Work Order Requests
  3. 1998-1999 ACCS Financial Report
  4. Lease agreement
  5. Education Code, Section 48900
  6. Education Code, Section 1982.3(a)
  7. 1999 Revenue and Limits Guide to School Finances in California
  8. Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission's reports and photographs
  9. Letter dated November 9, 1998 to ACCS Vice Principal from ACCS teacher

The Grand Jury conducted nine onsite visits to ACCS and took photographs of the school facility and campus.

FACTS

  1. The buildings which house the students do not appear to be safe and exhibit the following:
      a. Main school facility
      • Double doors in back are chained shut
      • All windows on rear wall are barred
      • Several holes in walls
      • Electrical outlets exposed
      • Library room used for storage of old books and curriculum material
      • Graffiti on walls inside facility
      • Roof leaks
      • Bathrooms have construction materials stored in shower stall
      • Kitchen ceiling has large hole that leaks when it rains
      • Kitchen oven doesn't work
      • Kitchen refrigerator dirty
      • Dry rot and mold under kitchen sink and in cabinets
      • Large holes from water damage in Staff Room ceiling
      • Staff Room being used for storage of obsolete books and curriculum material
      b. Computer Lab (Portable Classroom)
      • Room smells of mildew
      • Dry rot and holes in floor
      • Exit door has handle removed, and blocked by files
      • Holes in ceiling
      • Water leakage from roof when it rains
      • Unsafe stairs
      • Mold under carpets
      • Carpets buckling and tearing
      • Water damage on carpets
      • Room being used to store obsolete computers and curriculum material
      • Computer tables are sagging
      • Electrical extension cords lying across floor where students walk
      c. School grounds
      • Trash on playground area
      • Filled trash bags lying on grounds behind school room for over a year
      • Barbed wire used to mend fencing around school
      • Electrical conduits protruding from asphalt and lying on ground in play area
      • Steel pipes and other metal obstructions throughout play area
      • Metal roofing lying on ground in play area
      • Metal pipes wrapped around basketball poles and protruding straight out into yard area
      • Large holes in fencing around play area
      d. Office (Portable Building)
      • Roof leaks
      • Not properly secured from unauthorized entry
      e. Adjacent Property (approximately 100 feet away)
      • A swimming pool that has been partly filled with dirt, and has standing water in it when it rains, is not gated
      • Protruding pipes and electrical conduits around swimming pool area