Board to consider another charter school petition

In the wake of the opening of Berkeley Unified School District’s first charter school late last month, the district’s Board of Education will consider another charter school petition this week.

At its meeting Wednesday, the board will review a proposal from Oakland-based Integrity Educational Center, which resubmitted a petition to the district after having its first charter petition denied earlier in the year.

James Madden, lead petitioner and principal of the proposed school, said he feels his school would provide a much-needed service to the district’s students.

“The idea of this school is to provide hope for young people who may not have been successful in a traditional school setting,” Madden said. “The focus is a dropout prevention. We want to motivate kids to get their high school diploma and provide them with a trade. We will address students who have traditionally fallen by the wayside.”

Madden said he thinks his school will fill a niche by teaching practical skills that will help students get a stable job after graduation.

“There are plenty of charter schools, but they’re not schools focused on dropout recovery,” he said. “There are plenty of schools, but few will offer signature programs that I would offer, like a career center program that has students working who will help other students learn to fill out a resume.”

Madden originally submitted a proposal to the board June 29, which the board discussed and ultimately denied.

District Superintendent Bill Huyett said the original petition was denied for reasons including a lack of compliance with state guidelines and proof that the program would be sustainable over the long term.

“Programs where you’re recovering students, that’s a hard task to do,” Huyett said.

He added that he thinks the district is diligent in its review of charter schools, particularly about ensuring a school meets state guidelines.

“It’s very important that whoever operates a school does a good job because we do,” he said. “We have high-quality schools throughout the district, and we want to make sure that if a charter school is offered, it’s high quality.”

Madden said he is hopeful the board will approve the school’s petition with the changes that have been made to it.