Hard Times in Riverside County
Here's my new Reason Public Policy Institute commentary on the Indio Charter School's battle with the County of Riverside.
By any reasonable judgment, the Indio Charter School would be considered a success. The school, in the desert of Riverside County, California, offers a four-day week for 300 mostly-Hispanic students in grades K-12. Children attend school from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Indio charter school students attend class for 1910 minutes a week versus 1800 minutes in other California public schools. Of the 9 public elementary and 4 public middle schools in the city of Indio, Indio Charter School had the highest average score on California's Academic Performance Index (API). In fact, the school was 20 points ahead of the second-place school. Indio Charter School also had the highest average reading scores in all grades, except 7th, where it was second.
Despite the Indio charter's academic performance, the county of Riverside continues to penalize the school for offering a nontraditional school schedule. A ruling by the Riverside County Superior Court, upheld the state's right to withhold nearly $ 240,000 from the Indio Charter School. The state penalized the school, saying it failed to follow state attendance laws requiring students to attend classes for at least 175 days a year. Indio Charter School officials contend that their four-day week contains more than the required minutes of instruction and that California law allows charter schools more flexibility in their schedules.