By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Carroll clearly does not wish to antagonize state officials. After all, he's still in business, having moved on to greener pastures elsewhere in the state. Even while still affiliated with Sierra Summit, he inked management agreements with two other charters in far-flung school districts. And in June 1998, he registered a new corporate entity called the Charter School Resource Alliance.
On his own, Bauer has since rebuilt Sierra Summit to 400 students, which is as high as he's been able to push Ã£ enrollment given the state's decision to limit his recruiting to adjacent counties.
In a phone-message response to an interview request, Carroll asked for a "short paragraph on what the motivation of your article is and the questions you'd like answered." Carroll did not immediately respond to a two-page letter outlining interview topics in detail, but left another voice mail after his answering machine fielded follow-up calls. "Your subsequent voice mail to me today is consistent with my experience with the press," he said. "You've related facts regarding legal issues that are not correct. And I don't know your sources but I would suggest that you update your information to the truth. From your comments it's apparent that you're not interested in writing an article that positively supports the excellent work our teachers are doing and focusing on the resources committed to the children, so I will respectfully decline to participate in your article. Thank you."
In 1999, Bay Area newspapers reported that one2one enrolled Muslim students whose meeting place was an Islamic school where the students also studied Islam and paid tuition. Public schools, including charters, cannot charge tuition nor permit the teaching of religion. One2one told reporters that students were studying religion only after charter-school hours, but eventually stopped meeting at the mosque "to avoid confusion."
Ten charter schools, totaling well above 5,000 students, signed up with Carroll's company, according to an internal company document provided to the Weekly, though it's not clear how far his management services extend for these affiliates.
Several of these schools were eager to be included in an article on charter schools, including the Gorman Learning Center, headquartered in the northwest corner of Los Angeles County. "I suggest you consider how well we did on the state testing and weight that alongside the fact that those that tested higher than us were charters that only serve wealthy neighborhoods (Pacific Palisades) etc., while we serve many at-risk poor kids that have run out of options," wrote program director Waldo Burford in an e-mail. "On balance, we do far above state and county averages and still carry a large population and a full diversity of students."
Burford estimates his enrollment at 1,200 students, with 900 home-schoolers and 300 distance learners. Any student in Los Angeles County can enroll in his school.
He added: "We are under one2one learning in Dallas, Texas. They are in four states and because of their size, have some big-time technical support [for] our Web pages and provide automated ordering of our curriculum support materials."
Through records in Texas and New Mexico, the Weekly confirmed that one2one is registered as a nonprofit in those states. In addition, one2one has had a contract with an entity called the one2one Services Corporation, which was paid $500 per student per year of enrollment for "various online and communications services, as well as curriculum and accounting support," according to the company's own audit report. The fee totaled about $1.9 million for the '98-'99 school year.
In November 1998, one2one withdrew its application for a home-school-style charter in Pennsylvania's Elizabethtown Area School District. After being confronted with numerous concerns, a one2one executive wrote, "It is apparent that we will need additional time to adequately inform the community about the goals and mission of the proposed charter school." According to a school-district official, one2one never returned.
Although Carroll did not consent to an interview for this story, he responded in 1998 to a Weekly request for general information about Sierra Summit by providing the summary of "an informal survey . . . of nearly 200 parents," which offered that "Nearly 70 percent of parents rated their experience at the one2one charter schools as better than their experience with traditional schools."
He added in an attached note: "As a manager of public charter schools we strive to maintain the highest standards in management and accountability for our clients. We are a full-service management organization that performs complete school management, including staffing, payroll, student material supplies, online curriculum and reporting systems and Web site development and support."
The state is currently auditing a one2one school, according to sources in both the state Education Department and the state Controller's Office.
One2one also is fending off a former client school district, which is threatening litigation to retrieve student-attendance money it says was improperly claimed by one2one. This school system, the Mattole Unified School District, is even smaller than Sierra-Plumas, with 150 students spread across 225 square miles of the rugged Northern California coast.
The Mattole Valley Charter School started with about 100 students in September 1998. But by June 1999, one2one had built enrollment to 1,700 students from across the state.