During the morning bustle at a busy coffee shop, Armando Santoya’s 7-year old daughter scribbles away at a coloring worksheet. It’s a Friday, during regular school hours. But just two weeks before, Santoya unenrolled his daughter from second grade at Oasis Charter Public School, a K-6 charter school in the Alisal Union School District. He’s waiting to hear back about enrolling her in Santa Rita Union School District instead.
Santoya is one of over a dozen parents who have raised concerns in recent months about the administration, including Oasis Executive Director Juanita Perea. Parents have complained about a range of issues, speaking out at board meetings and talking to school officials, and have been met with letters from Perea telling them to cease communication.
“We just want help,” Santoya says, “but we’re not being heard.”
Santoya’s concerns began in 2016 when parents started complaining that their children were suffering from symptoms like excessive coughing, wheezing and a runny nose. According to a pesticide episode investigation report completed out by the county Agricultural Commissioner’s office, Perea instructed custodians to spray an anti-lice pesticide called Licadex-Ex within indoor school facilities. Perea bought the pesticide on Amazon, according to the report. It’s not registered in California and not legal for use.
Complaints also address academic performance and testing. In the 2015-16 school year, the statewide Smarter Balanced assessments were improperly proctored and no scores were generated to the California Department of Education for the entire school. Casey Buck, a current parent and a former fourth-grade Oasis teacher (who was terminated in November 2016), was a proctor that year. “I said, ‘I think we’re missing a section,’ and no one listened,” Buck says.
Multiple requests for comment from AUSD and Oasis Charter were not returned by the Weekly’s deadline.
For parents like Andrew Sandoval, who has four children enrolled in Oasis, the lack of scores made him worry about academic performance. In one measure of progress, the CDE reports Oasis’ English Learner progress has “declined significantly” with a 23.8-percent drop. “We just want to make sure our kids are learning,” Sandoval says.
The Weekly viewed copies of three recent letters Perea sent to Sandoval and his wife, Ruth, telling them to back off. In an Oct. 23 letter to Ruth, Perea took issue with her speaking to a staff member about homework volume. “It is inappropriate for you to be addressing your concerns in public with staff members.”
Andrew Sandoval maintains the family is just trying to get basic information: “This is bullying at its core.”