CUSD school board evaluates charter school application

At the Claremont Unified School District’s November 16 meeting, the board of education held a public hearing on a petition from Ingenium Wings Schools to open an independent study charter school in Claremont.

Ingenium Schools, which was founded 10 years ago and serves 1,400 students across four charter schools in the Los Angeles area, has its headquarters in Claremont, and wants to expand.

Superintendent David Langford told the board that Ingenium doesn’t want to compete with Claremont, but rather work together with the district.

“There’s always a time when students need something extra,” Mr. Langford said. “They need some kind of help, whether that’s college prep that you don’t offer or it’s credit recovery programs, or dropout recovery.”

Ingenium’s school would serve kindergarten students through 12th graders, and would transition from homeschooling and small group interactions with other students in younger grades to mostly independent work at the high school level.

Langford doesn’t anticipate many of the proposed charter school’s students will come from Claremont.

“I understand that you take in about 1,700 students from surrounding districts every year,” he said, “but I also understand you turn away a lot of students that you can’t accommodate and can’t come into the system, and we could be a very good alternative to that.”

Mr. Langford hopes the charter school will be built a few blocks south of Claremont High School, on Foothill Boulevard.

“We’ve been working with the Claremont Graduate University, who’s vacating the site on Foothill,” he said. “We think it’s a very excellent site for us.”

Claremont resident Nick Quackenbos was in support of the project and said one of his two kids would have benefited from an independent charter school.

“I think this would be a fine addition to Claremont’s excellent program and I encourage you to adopt it,” he told the board.

Letty Hernandez, a Claremont teacher, spoke out against the petition.

“I am confused by the petition to start an independent study school, since Claremont already provides an independent study school which, I think, has had some success. So I think that would be duplicating services,” she told the board.

The board will take action on the petition at its December 21 meeting.


Chaparral Elementary School and El Roble Intermediate School both presented Single Plan for Student Achievement reports, which measure how well students did in meeting state English Language Arts and math standards. Both schools failed the English and math schools set the previous academic year.

Instead of an increase in the percentage of students at Chaparral who met or exceeded state English standards, the school experienced a drop, from 75 percent to 73.7 percent. And in math, the percentage decreased from 60 percent to 59.3 percent.

“One of the things that your students always do well—and I think when you’re in a high place, it’s hard to get higher. I think that you’re looking carefully at where the areas of growth need to be,” board member Beth Bingham said. “But I also think you need to be congratulated for the good work that still is happening.” 

El Roble hoped to have the percentage of students who met English standards increase from 70 to 74 percent, but did not meet its goal. Likewise, the school failed to reach its goal to increase from 53 to 58.5 percent of students’ state math standards.

“I think it’s really amazing you’re doing well, because I think having just two years together can be difficult, because the kids are coming and going,” Bingham told El Roble representatives. “To be able to create that sense of community and to show academic progress I think is made that much more challenging.”

As reported at a previous board meeting, fewer students at Sycamore Elementary met or exceeded state standards. Scores at Sycamore dropped to 57.9 percent of students who met or exceeded English standards, down from 59.9 percent. The percentage of students meeting or exceeding math standards dropped from 65.6 percent to 65.3 percent.

Sycamore hopes 69.3 percent of students will meet English standards and 61.9 percent will meet math standards by the end of this school year.


Central kitchen assistant Lisa Carmona received the Classified Spotlight on Excellence award. She is described as “the glue that holds our department together. Her exceptional work ensures our students are prepared and ready to learn,” Mr. Elsasser said. “She cares about her kitchen and the people who work there. She’s one of the first employees in our district at 5 a.m. every morning.

“In recent months, there was a significant supply issue that could have greatly impacted our nutritional programs, and she ensured that we utilized additional vendors and coordinated very complex supply and deliver issues so our students were not impacted,” he added.

—Kellen Browning



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