Tri-Valley Learning Corporation lost its appeal to the Western States Schools and College (WASC) concerning accreditation of its Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory School (LVCP).

WASC President Fred Van Leuven said in a letter dated Feb. 1 that WASC rejected the two contentions on which TVLC based its appeal.

TVLC said that some data in support of losing accreditation was erroneous. WASC stated that was not true.

TVLC also said that the original WASC decision pulling accreditation was not supported by the evidence, an assertion also rejected by WASC. The association’s board made the decision at a meeting Jan. 30 and 31 in San Diego,

There was no amplification concerning the two WASC statements in Van Leuven’s one-page letter. Van Leuven said that the school can regain accreditation in one of two ways. It can seek reinstatement of its accreditation, or it can reapply for initial accreditation. If TVLC applies for initial accreditation, it must start the whole process all over again.

Chris Van Schaack, assistant superintendent for the school district, explained, that reinstatement of accreditation is a shorter process. If LVCP follows the reapplication route, everything that has occurred since June would be open to review by WASC. The drop in the number of students would impact LVPC financially. However, WASC looks at whether or not LVPC providees a quality academic program, not the number of students enrolled.

Van Leuven spelled out the meaning of the letter to TVLC. “Livermore Valley Charter Prep is no longer accredited by ACS WASC. They have no status with our organization,” wrote VanLeuven.

Clarifying further, Van Leuven said, “For the record, any school seeking reaccreditation is not accredited. Our bylaws describe initial accreditation and its process. Regardless of which path a school chooses to become accredited after losing it, all prior issues must be resolved before accreditation may be granted. TVLC has been informed of this information,” said the e-mail dated Feb. 6.

TVLC Interim CEO Lynn Lysko spoke with the board of directors about the WASC denial of the appeal at a special meeting Feb. 2. She said that she prefers that TVLC reapply, rather than start from scratch. Her impression then was that it would be a way to keep accreditation for LVCP, until WASC makes a decision about re-accreditation. However, Lysko said she needed to check with WASC to determine whether the WASC by-laws allow that, and planned to do that on Feb. 3.

However, on Feb. 6, Van Leuven made his statement to The Independent noting that applying for recertification would not keep accreditation alive for LVCP.

Also in the TVLC board’s discussion at its meeting, board president Scott Lessard said, “Just for the record, this (WASC denial of the appeal) does not affect any A-G accreditations or enrollment or graduations?”

Lysko replied, “No.”

As to UC admission, even without accreditation for this fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016, students may still qualify for admission to UC through a pathway called “admission by exception.” UC looks at the A-G classes in the 10th and 11th grade to qualify seniors. LVCP was accredited when this year’s seniors were in those grades.

Announcement of that policy was made in a Sept. 29, 2016 memo to parents, sent by TVLC media consultant Chris Bertelli.

At the Feb. 2 meeting, the board also backed a move that would provide on-line classes for grades 9-12 that are pre-approved for A-G curriculum. Lysko will negotiate with Edgenuity, a curriculum software developer. She is authorized to spend up to $25,000, which will cover one-and-one-half years for the price of one year.

Lysko said that it should reassure people about the validity of the curriculum at the high school. She said the teachers are all on board with it. Some teachers had been downloading free courses on-line. Lysko stated, "This was not very well organized, in my opinion.”

On the importance of WASC accreditation, LVJUSD Superintendent Kelly Bowers said, “The WASC Seal of Accreditation is a guarantee that a high school is delivering its promise of a quality education to each of its students. Collectively, we rely on the accreditation process to validate our schools and their academic integrity.

“In the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District, we take the process very seriously. Our high school administrators, teachers, and staff not only cooperate with WASC, but also regard the WASC process as a framework for ongoing improvement. Our respect for the WASC process demonstrates our commitment to student achievement.”

The district’s web site says that accreditation assures colleges that high school students are being taught valid curriculum by qualified educators who follow the WASC process. The student’s transcript then serves as a qualifying entrance requirement for colleges and universities.

As for the impact of WASC denial’s impact on future enrollment, LVCP shrank from 414 students in the last fiscal year to 292 in this fiscal year. Many of the students wound up at Granada and Livermore high schools. Their parents said that worry about accreditation and the future financial picture of TVLC, with the TVLC debt at $3.5 million, were factors in their decision.

Some of that debt will go down, because TVLC has filed for bankruptcy protection. It means some creditors may not be paid, or may be paid at only a percentage of the debt. Large corporations have filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy to survive in business.

TVLC will work out a plan for the court. It will be up to creditors to evaluate and vote on the plan. Then the court would make a decision on the plan. The evaluation would take up to six months.

In the process, there would be an immediate suspension of collection of TVLC debt, freeing up possibly as much as an additional $200,000 per month, according to TVLC.

ANOTHER CHARTER MAY TAKE ACACIA STUDENTS, ASSETS

TVLC may also be getting rid of the financial burden of supporting the two Acacia charter schools in Stockton. After a closed session, Lessard announced that “a highly regarded California charter school operator is interested in enrolling the students at Acacia under its own charter, and purchase certain assets of the Acacia school.” Both boards would have to agree, as would the bankruptcy court.

The goal is to conclude the Acacia deal before the end of the annual recruitment season before school starts. Also, Lysko made a conflict of interest disclosure in the matter, declaring that her employment may be affected, said Lessard.