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Valley Oak Charter School                        

(Renewal term~ June 25, 2015-June 25, 2020)

valley oak charter renewal petition        2

What makes Valley Oak unique and special?        2

Valley Oak Charter: five years of progress        4

Valley Oak Charter is fully accredited        4

Valley Oak Charter has met the California State renewal thresholds        5

Analyzed and interpreted student achievement data        6

affirmations and assurances        7

the valley oak charter        9

Our Inspiration        9

Element #1: Educational Program        9

An Educated Person in the 21st Century        10

The Valley Oak Charter Education Program        10

LCAPAnnual Goals for All Pupils        14

Enrollment and the Master Agreement        14

Special Education        15

School Calendar        15

Element #2: Measurable Pupil Outcomes        15

Element #3: Methods to Assess Pupil Progress Toward Meeting Outcomes        16

New schoolwide assessment goal from WASC        17

Element #4: Governance Structure of the School        18

Element #5: Employee Qualifications        19

Element #6: Health and Safety Procedures        19

Element #7: Means to Achieve Racial/Ethnic Balance Reflective of District        20

Element #8: Admission Requirements        20

Admission Requirements        20

Parent Involvement        21

Element #9: Financial Audit        21

Resolution of Deficiencies        22

Element #10: Pupil Suspension and Expulsion        23

Element #11: Retirement System        23

Element #12: Attendance Alternatives        23

Element #13: Description of Employee Rights        24

Element #14: Dispute Resolution Process        24

Intent        24

Public Comments        24

Disputes Arising from Within the Valley Oak Charter        25

Disputes Between the Valley Oak Charter and the Ojai Unified School District        25

Oversight, Reporting, Revocation, and Renewal        25

Element # 15: Exclusive Public School Employer/Labor Relations        26

Element # 16: Closure Procedures        26

Miscellaneous provisions        27

Term        27

Amendments        27

Severability        27

Facilities        27

Civil Liability        28

Budget        28

Insurance        29

District  Services Agreement        29

Charter Size        29

Addendums        30

Valley Oak Charter Renewal Petition

Submitted February 3, 2015

Valley Oak Charter was established in 2002 as an outgrowth of an Ojai Unified School District program designed to reach out to homeschooling families living in the Ojai Valley.  Homeschool parents make the decision to educate their own children for a variety of reasons, ranging from the parents’ personal educational philosophy to the student’s social or academic difficulties within a traditional school setting.  Without a school like VOC, most homeschool families would continue to educate their children at home, only without the oversight, educational support, and socialization opportunities of the public school system.  

For many in the VOC community, homeschooling is the educational choice for their child’s entire K-12 academic career.  For others, Valley Oak serves as a pathway for some homeschool students to successfully transition back into the traditional school system.  Parents who have effectively homeschooled their children for several years will often enroll them at VOC for a year or so as a transition into a District school.  Others simply prefer the hybrid program offered at VOC, and benefit from the support given by the school and its community of homeschooling families.

VOC takes seriously its responsibility of supporting homeschool parents in delivering a meaningful, standards-based education to their children.   VOC provides books, online curriculum, instructional guidance, State-mandated testing, and a variety of optional educational experiences on campus. It is important to realize, however, that each Valley Oak student is completing their core academics at home, with the parent as primary teacher.  Every student follows an individual learning plan that emphasizes the student’s own unique needs and abilities rather than the traditional emphasis on grade-level expectations.  Credentialed Valley Oak staff work closely with each family to support them in educating their own children at home.


What makes Valley Oak Charter Unique and Special?

Valley Oak Charter (VOC) has several unique or special characteristics that must be considered when evaluating the school’s performance as an educational institution.

  1. VOC is a homeschool support program; thus, parents are the primary teachers for their own children.  Guided by the school’s staff of credentialed teachers, parents take responsibility for making day-to-day curriculum and instructional choices.  In addition, parents document their student’s learning in weekly work records, which they submit to the school’s credentialed teachers for review.  Each student is assigned to an appropriate Supervising Teacher (ST), based on the student’s grade-level and academic goals.  The ST advises the parents on curriculum options, materials, and instructional methods, and collaborates in the creation of an annual individual learning plan based on state standards as well as the individual needs and interests of the student.  In helping parents design their student’s learning plan, collecting and evaluating work records and work samples, and recommending curriculum and instructional options, VOC teachers provide an invaluable service to families who have decided to homeschool their children.  VOC gives homeschool families a structure, process, and support system that promote successful, standards-based homeschool learning.
  2. As stated in the school’s founding charter, families at VOC may educate their children without rigid adherence to state grade-level expectancies. While still addressing the standards, students are encouraged to work at a level appropriate to their abilities and interests.  Students may focus on language standards relevant to one age level and pursue social studies standards relevant to another.  Although VOC students use excellent, standards-based materials and instructional methods, their State test scores, based on results that follow more rigid grade-level standards, may not reflect their actual knowledge and educational achievement at any given time.  High School students on the VOC Diploma Track, however, are required to follow state-recommended grade-level expectancies closely in order to earn academic credit that is transferable to more traditional programs.
  3. Valley Oak Charter believes that learning occurs on an ongoing basis in a multitude of settings.  In addition to supporting the child’s home-based learning experiences, VOC teachers provide dynamic, child-centered, group-based learning experiences that supplement the child’s homeschool learning.  During the on-site portion of VOC’s program, students participate in mixed-grade enrichment classes, field trips, and project-based learning activities.  Such activities create shared learning experiences and promote acceptance of others.  VOC students rarely compare themselves to or compete with each other, and the diverse age groups and ability levels of students facilitate friendships across a wide range of ages and learning abilities.  In addition, younger students are welcomed into classes designed for older students as their readiness dictates, while older students often join classes designed for younger students out of an enjoyment of the subject or a willingness to mentor. Three times a year, students at all grade levels participate in public presentations of their work, further fostering appreciation of their fellow students’ diverse interests and abilities.  In such a culture of shared experiences, students tend to play and work more cooperatively with teachers, parents, and each other.
  4. Enrollment at Valley Oak Charter has been previously capped by the District at 75 students.  Because of its limited size, small changes in the makeup of the student population can have a major impact on the school’s performance data from one year to the next, with the average testing population in recent years between 44 and 52.  Variations in the school’s annual API scores are often considerable because, being a homeschool program, a portion of the school’s students enroll at VOC while in transition from one school to another or because family and/or personal considerations require a temporary homeschooling arrangement.  These factors skew aggregate school-wide results on standardized tests and Academic Performance Indicators.  In 2014, the California Department Education  took action to recognize the special challenges of small, unique charters in providing valid statistical assessment data given their limited numbers.  It has now put in place alternative assessment options for schools with fewer than 100 valid test scores.  Valley Oak is actively pursuing its own alternative assessment tools, beginning with fully utilizing the Scantron EdPerformance program as directed by its Board of Directors.  Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, all students in grades 2-12 will be required to complete the EdPerformance assessments twice each year, with the Scantron system helping to track and identify growth over time.  The use of this type of computer-based longitudinal information program is increasing state-wide as educators come to realize that the validity of grouped assessments once per year does not provide the same depth of data as can be provided by multiple opportunities for student’s to show specific individualized results.
  5. Over the past four years, VOC has seen an increase in its IEP-Special Services population. The flexibility and personalization of learning experiences and the camaraderie and acceptance of diversity among students appeal to families seeking both a Free Alternative Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for their children, whatever their abilities and needs. Historically, VOC’s special services population accounts for 15-17% of its enrollment, a percentage considerably higher than the state average (11% according to EdSource).  The school’s increased percentage of special needs students, along with its small overall number of students tested, has affected the school’s test results, leading to lower average scores in recent years. The school is addressing this by following testing accommodation protocols more closely, and increasing its oversight of the placement of students with special needs into VOC’s independent study program to ensure that those placements are appropriate.
  6. Because of the school’s flexible, individualized, home-based educational program, VOC welcomes many “difficult to serve” segments of the valley’s student population.  Parents may take their children out of traditional school for any number of reasons.  By giving these students and their families the chance to have successful educational experiences during a difficult time, VOC performs a vital service.  However, it again introduces a level of unpredictability into the results of standardized tests.
  7. Valley Oak Charter has a close and supportive relationship with the Ojai Unified School District and its member schools.  Under our services agreement with OUSD (outlined in the current MOU), VOC students are able to take courses at the district’s junior and senior high schools if/when requested. As part of the aforementioned MOU, VOC currently contracts with the OUSD to handle its accounting, human resources, financial, and some educational services.  Working in partnership with the OUSD, VOC provides students and families the opportunity to make an educational choice that fits, while at the same time contributing a portion of our student’s funding back to the district.  In these times of declining enrollment and in a community where private schools are plentiful, VOC provides an important public-school alternative that supports and enhances the public education system here in the Ojai Valley.
  8. VOC contracts a number of services from OUSD as detailed in various MOUs.  Full copies of other documents (audits, budgets, LCAP, SARC, etc.) are on file at DO.

Valley Oak Charter: 5-Years of Progress

Since the school’s last renewal in 2010, Valley Oak has undergone several significant changes.

2010-11        Valley Oak moves into its current facility at the Ojai Valley Community Church.

2011-12        Valley Oak purchases property in Meiners Oaks as a site for its future campus.

2012-13        The Ojai Unified School District grants Valley Oak a revision to its charter,

allowing the school to add grades 11 & 12 and develop a Diploma Track for high school students.

2013-14        Valley Oak is granted WASC accreditation for its K-12 program.

2014-15        Valley Oak begins upgrading its high school course offerings to pave the way for

UC a-g approval of its core academics, (approval expected in Fall of 2015).  NCAA approval is also in progress.

                 • Valley Oak establishes its own Special Education program.

                • Valley Oak begins design work on its new campus.


With each year, Valley Oak continues to strengthen its program and include more offerings and support for its families.  This renewal petition is presented at a pivotal time in the school’s development as the school builds its high school program, its special education program, and its transition to a new campus.  VOC looks forward to a continued partnership with the OUSD in bringing a quality, standards-based education to the homeschool families of the Ojai Valley.

Valley Oak Charter is fully WASC Accredited.

Valley Oak received its initial WASC accreditation in February, 2014.  A committee of VOC staff, administration, and parents worked on the Initial Visit Report through the summer and fall of 2013.  The school was visited by the WASC team in November of that year.  All comments by WASC director Lee Duncan were very favorable and he recommended accreditation without any reservations.

While it is rare for homeschool programs to be accredited by WASC, VOC has been in operation for over 10 years and has a proven record of developing many successful programs to assist homeschool parents in educating their children.  We were hoping for full accreditation, but confident that we would at least achieve candidate status.  We were pleased to learn the following February that we had been granted full K-12 accreditation, with only three goals to work on for our next self-study.  

WASC accreditation demonstrates that Valley Oak is successfully fulfilling its mission in offering a sound educational program for all students.  It also demonstrates that courses completed at Valley Oak are equivalent to other accredited programs, are fully transferable, and fulfill college entrance requirements.

The WASC self-study process is one that the OUSD can use to help them monitor VOC and its progress in light of the unreliability of its API scores.  Our WASC Initial Visit Report (Addendum ‘A’) is included in this submission as a resource in evaluating the school’s educational program.  

Valley Oak Charter has met the California State renewal thresholds.

SB 1290 clarified API Renewal Thresholds.  The law states that Charter Schools petitioning for renewal must meet at least one of the following API targets:

The law calls for alternatives during last year’s API suspension:

Valley Oak Charter has met the State’s academic requirements for renewal by exceeding its API growth target in 2 of its 3 most recent API calculations (Addendum ‘B’).   

                Tested                Growth                Base        Growth Target        Growth          Met Target?

2012-13        43                726                701              5                   25             Yes        

2011-12        40                694                767              5                  -73             No

2010-11        36                767                737              5                   30             Yes

*NOTE: VOC has no numerically significant subgroups; also, the state does not calculate a Similar Schools Rank for schools with fewer that 100 students tested.  

Valley Oak Charter has been affiliated with the two major charter organizations in California for more the ten years.  Both Statewide charter school organizations—California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) and Charter School Development Center (CSDC)—endorse Valley Oak Charter’s petition for renewal.   

CCSA reviews all California charter schools up for renewal and makes a recommendation based on State standards and their own formula.  CSDC monitors and advises charter schools statewide.  Both organizations have strong relationships with the California Department of Education and work to improve charter schools and to impact laws that affect charters.  CCSA and CSDC both support Valley Oak Charter’s program and its petition for renewal.  Letters of support from these two organizations are included with this petition (Addendum ‘C’).

Analyzed and interpreted student achievement data.

In 2003, when Valley Oak Charter began administering the STAR test, many families resisted standardized testing.  In fact, it was to avoid such testing that many VOC parents made the decision to homeschool their children.  That first year, only 1 student out of the 31 enrolled completed all required tests.  Since then, VOC’s credentialed staff have demonstrated to the school’s families the value of using the state content standards as curriculum guidelines and the need for them to participate in state-mandated testing as members of a public school program.  Since 2004, VOC has met or exceeded its state-mandated STAR participation requirement.  Today, the school requires that all 2nd - 12th grade students also use Scantron’s EdPerformance program as the school year begins to track student progress on the state standards; it also provides study guide resources for parents to address specific learning objectives identified by the EdPerformance assessment.

A five-year study of Valley Oak Charter’s performance on state-mandated standardized tests (STAR) reveals that, for most years, student performance is on par with state and county averages for “small” schools.  However, as a “small” school, and one with a high student mobility rate, VOC does not have enough students in any given category (grade level, ethnic group, etc.) to make a sound analysis based solely on CST scores.   The number of VOC students tested have ranged from 44 to 52 over the past five years, statistically, too small a number to yield meaningful results.  The new Common Core standards for testing now take into account the problem of creating API scores for schools with fewer than 100 valid test scores and with a high turnover of the student population.  The tables shown in Addendum ‘B’ illustrate how VOC’s state test results have remained well above the state’s minimum requirements despite showing fluctuations over the years due to testing anomalies.  The school’s small numbers, however, do make it possible to complete longitudinal studies for individual students. The Board of Directors has decided to use the school’s EdPerformance and IXL scores to build such a study.  This program will be fully implemented in the 2015-16 school year.  A sample student report, with student identifiers removed for privacy, is included with this petition as Addendum ‘D’.

Affirmations and Assurances

As the authorized representative of the applicant, I hereby certify that the information submitted in this application to renew the charter for Valley Oak Charter (“VOC” or “Charter School” or “School”) located within the boundaries of the Ojai Unified School District is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.  I understand that if the charter is renewed, the Valley Oak Charter School is committed to the following affirmations:

  1. Valley Oak Charter shall meet all statewide standards and conduct all required pupil assessment tests, pursuant to Education Code Section 60605 and 60851, and any other statewide standards authorized in statute, or any other pupil assessments applicable to pupils in non-charter public schools.
  2. Valley Oak Charter shall be deemed the exclusive public school employer of the employees of the Valley Oak Charter school for purposes of Educational Employment Relations.
  3. The Charter School shall not enter into or bind the Ojai Unified School District to a contract in any way not authorized herein, nor to extend the credit of the OUSD to any third party without the express written permission of the OUSD.
  4. The Charter School shall be non-sectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations.
  5. The Charter School shall not charge tuition.
  6. The Charter School shall not discriminate on the basis of the characteristics listed in Education Code Section 220 (actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code or association with an individual who has any of the aforementioned characteristics). [Ref. Education Code Section 47605(d)(1)]
  7. The Charter School shall admit all pupils who wish to attend the charter school and who submit a timely application unless the Charter School receives a greater number of applications than there are spaces for pupils, in which case each application will be given equal chance of admission through a public random drawing process.
  8. Except as required by Education Code Section 47605(d)(2), admission to the Charter School shall not be determined according to the place of residence of the student or his or her parents within the State.
  9. Preference in the public random drawing shall be given as required by Education Code Section 47605(d)(2)(B). In the event of a drawing, the chartering authority shall make reasonable efforts to accommodate the growth of the Charter School in accordance with Education Code Section 47605(d)(2)(C). [Ref. Education Code Section 47605(d)(2)(A)-(B)].  The current enrollment cap of 75 students may be modified only by mutual agreement.
  10. The Charter School shall conduct its meetings of the VOC Board of Directors in accordance with the Brown Act and comply with the Public Records Act (Government Code 6250 et seq.) as well as Education Code 47604.3.
  11. The Charter School shall adhere to all provisions of federal law related to students with disabilities, including, but not limited to, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act of 2004.
  12. The Charter School shall meet all requirements for employment set forth in applicable provisions of law, including, but not limited to, credentials, as necessary.
  13. The Charter School shall ensure that teachers in the Charter School hold a Commission on Teacher Credentialing certificate, permit, or other document equivalent to that which a teacher in other public schools is required to hold. As allowed by statute, flexibility will be given to non-core, non-college preparatory teachers.
  14. The Charter School under the guidance of the OUSD will ensure that Special Education staff is appropriately credentialed.
  15. The Ojai Unified School District will not require any pupil to attend the Charter School.
  16. The Charter School shall at all times maintain all necessary and appropriate insurance coverage.
  17. The Charter School shall, for each fiscal year, offer at a minimum the number of minutes of instruction per grade level as required by Education Code § 47612.5(a)(1)(A)-(D).
  18. If a pupil is expelled or leaves the Charter School without graduating or completing the school year for any reason, the Charter School shall notify the superintendent of the school district of the pupil’s last known address within 30 days, and shall, upon request, provide that school district with a copy of the cumulative record of the pupil, including a transcript of grades or report card and health information.
  19. The Charter School shall follow any and all other federal, state, and local laws and regulations that apply, including but not limited to the following:
  1. The Charter School shall comply with the Public Records Act and the Federal Educational Privacy Rights Act (“FERPA”).
  2. The Charter School shall on a regular basis consult with its parents and teachers regarding the Charter School’s education programs.
  3. The Charter School shall comply with any jurisdictional limitations to the location of its facilities.
  4. The Charter School shall maintain accurate written contemporaneous records that document all pupil attendance, academic progress, disciplinary, immunization, and other health records and shall make those records available for audit and inspection upon request.
  5. The Charter School shall comply with all laws related to the minimum and maximum age for public school enrollment.
  6. The Charter School shall comply with all applicable portions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
  7. The Charter School shall meet or exceed the legally required minimum number of school days.
  8. The Charter School will ensure that the eight priority areas as defined in EC Section 52060(d) are closely aligned to the Charter’s goals as listed in their LCAP.
  9.  The Charter School shall comply with AB 1266 as defined by the Ojai Unified School District’s Board policies. EC 221.5
  10.  The Charter School will ensure that the minimum school day requirement for students also enrolled part time in college classes are met. EC 46146.5


Laura Fulmer, Director

The Valley Oak Charter                        

A California Public Charter

Our Inspiration

The Valley Oak Charter is inspired by and modeled upon the work of Nancy Friedland and the staff and families of the Home Based Partnership program of the Santa Barbara Charter School. Their mature program has been in operation for twenty-one years and from them we adopted many time-tested tenets, our philosophy and our daily operation strategies. This Charter follows the model of the successful Charter application written by another similar program, The Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center, which was chartered by Tulare County in the year 2001.

Element #1: Educational Program

A description of the educational program of the school, designed, among other things, to identify those whom the school is attempting to educate, what it means to be an educated person in the 21st Century, and how leaning best occurs. The goals identified in that program shall include the objective of enabling pupils to become self-motivated, competent, and lifelong learners.

Mission Statement:  “Valley Oak Charter School is dedicated to supporting and empowering homeschooled students and their families as they take an active role in designing and implementing an educational program that addresses the State Standards while igniting a passion for learning and stimulating the intellectual, emotional, and physical health of the child.”  

Valley Oak Charter serves homeschooled students living in the Ojai Valley and beyond.  The school is open to any student in grades K – 12th grade, with a current enrollment cap of 75 students.  Valley Oak advocates no particular homeschool methodology (Classical, Traditional, Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, Waldorf, etc), but serves the needs of all homeschool families who wish to enroll their children.  Valley Oak is actually 40 – 50 home-based “schools” that are coordinated and supported by VOC and its staff.  The overarching educational program of the school can be described as: a. independent study at home with parents serving as their student’s primary teacher, b. supervision and oversight provided by certificated teachers, c. an individual learning plan tailored to the interests and abilities of the student while addressing the state standards, d. curriculum materials and instructional support provided by the school at no charge, e. on-site socialization and educational activities that enhance the learning experiences of the student, and f. a community of homeschooling families that support and enrich each other while on their educational journey.  

At the center of Valley Oak Charter School are our homeschool families.  The legislature of the State of California states that, “The family is our most fundamental social institution and the means by which we care for, prepare, and train our children to be productive members of our society.  Social research shows increasingly that the disintegration of the family is a major cause of increased welfare enrollment, child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency, and criminal activity,” (Education Code Section 51220.5).  In keeping with these principles, the Valley Oak Charter seeks to support parents in Ventura and contiguous counties in their roles as their child’s teacher.


Families choose a home-centered education for their children for a wide variety of reasons.  The flexibility of instructional delivery strategies can allow for remediations that cannot be provided in a classroom setting.  Because of this, families with children with special needs (disabilities or gifted and talented) often find that their children thrive in the flexible one-on-one instruction that homeschooling allows. Other parents choose home schooling because of a desire to nurture strong family relationships or for philosophical reasons.  Some children with chronic illnesses find that learning in a home-based program allows them to overcome the limitations associated with poor school attendance.  And other families embrace the opportunity to take an active role in their child’s education.

The challenges facing a family that chooses the homeschool alternative are many: designing a curriculum that meets state standards, acquiring suitable textbooks and instructional materials, building a paper trail that will be recognized by other schools, developing a pedagogy that meets the individual interests and needs of their child, and assessing progress in a meaningful way. Valley Oak Charter offers homeschool families a program of educational support to meet these challenges, while allowing them the freedom to pursue their own curriculum and instructional methods.

The Valley Oak Charter Educational Philosophy

The Valley Oak Charter philosophy evolves from the understanding that learning takes place constantly throughout life and in all settings.  A strong, lifelong learner is one who has opportunities to pursue her/his own interests and make choices about her/his own activities and goals.  

An Educated Person in the 21st Century

        The Valley Oak Charter recognizes that the challenges of the 21st Century are more complex than those students may have faced in the past. In addition to the necessity of mastering skills of reading, writing, speaking and calculating with clarity and precision, it is essential that students have the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. This includes the ability to locate and access information, to critically analyze information, to have an understanding of the political process, to develop a sense of being part of a global community, and to master strong conflict resolution skills.  

It is the philosophy of the Valley Oak Charter that students learn best when parents are actively involved in their children’s education and learning is relevant to the child.  Research by Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg support the concept that learning is at its optimum, and students are encouraged to become self-motivated, competent, life-long learners, when families are given the freedom and support needed to take responsibility for the education of their children.

The Eight Year Study, involving over two thousand students matched for socioeconomic variables, showed that students who were taught utilizing a student directed curriculum outscored the control group in every measure in subsequent college enrollment.  It is the VOC belief, supported by research, that learning expectations and activities should be geared toward each child’s individual developmental level (Piaget).  

VOC’s educational philosophy is based on the belief that learning occurs best when:

• Parents are actively involved in their child’s learning and the operation of the school.

• Guided by the State Standards, curriculum is tailored to the individual needs, interests, and learning style of the student.  

• Students participate in the design of their individual learning plan.

• Students are encouraged to master the State Standards to the best of their ability, but are also encouraged challenging these standards through their own independent thinking.

• The instructional program allows the child to learn at his or her own pace.

• Children are intrinsically motivated, rather than compelled to learn through comparison, fear, or reward.

•  Instruction takes place one-on-one, or in small groups, whenever possible.

• The educational program nurtures the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development of the child as an integrated process.

• Students have an awareness of, and connection with, the community and region in which they live.

• Instruction, as much as possible, involves real-life experiences in a variety of settings, incorporating community resources through field trips, volunteer programs, and guest presentations and courses.

• Children pursue academic goals through a variety of learning experiences, including project-based learning, technology, and the arts.

• There is an emphasis on the quality of the child’s relationships with family, friends, classmates, adults, and nature.

• There is positive and frequent communication between the home and school.

Educational goals for all VOC students                Actions to achieve these goals

Students will be an active participant in the design of their own individual learning plan.

a. Students participate in creating their annual Goals & Objectives, b. students pursue their own elective learning goals, c. student surveys provide the basis for VOC enrichment classes and field trips.

Optimal student learning will be achieved via parent involvement and support.

a. Parents serve as the student’s primary teacher, b. parents participate in school governance and classroom lessons, c. learning is shared by parent and child, d. parents accompany students on community-based learning experiences.

Students will achieve competency (or better) in general academic knowledge and skills, and mastery of those that relate to their own interests.

a. Students follow an approved standards-based, independent-study curriculum that is tailored to their interests and needs.  b. time is allowed during the instructional day for students to pursue their own interests and develop their individual abilities.

Students will become self-motivated, competent, life-long learners; students will be comfortable in a variety of learning environments.

a. learning takes place 24/7 throughout the student’s daily life,  b. parents serve as role models for life-long learning, c. learning is viewed as a part of living, not a preparation for life.

Students will explore their potential in the arts, technology, physical education, and project-based learning.

Valley Oak offers a variety of on-site exploratory classes each trimester.  Most of these classes are in the arts, technology, physical education, and project-based learning.  

Students will perform and achieve as well or better as they would in a traditional school setting.

As a homeschool program, parents are able to tailor their child’s education to meet the child’s own interests and abilities.  Children are free to move at their own pace instead of that set by the school or grade-level averages.

Students will be intrinsically motivated to learn and develop their intelligence.

Because learning at Valley Oak is child-centered, parents are able to harness the natural curiosity of their child to motivate learning.  They do not need to rely as much on extrinsic rewards and punishments to motivate learning.  The balance of intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation is developed individually for each child.

Students will explore and develop meaningful relationships with others through their VOC learning experiences.

VOC offers 12 hours of programming a week, during which children learn to work and play with other children in social groups.  These classes, field trips, and “open time” are used as opportunities for social learning as well as academic learning.  The emphasis is not on following rules, but on developing relationships and learning interpersonal skills.

Students will explore and develop a meaningful relationship with nature.

Valley Oak offers many programs that encourage children to develop a relationship with nature.  Classes include Earthworks, From Farm to Table, Plein Air Art, etc. Field trips include nature hikes, boat trips to the Islands, aquariums, and outdoor programs by Wilderness Youth Project of Santa Barbara.

Students will be able to continue their homeschool education through high school, earning a WASC-accredited high school diploma.

Recently VOC added grades 11 and 12 and a WASC-accredited diploma track.  The VOC diploma program is based on the state graduation requirement, however, students who choose to pursue additional coursework towards meeting the UC a-g requirements are encouraged and supported in meeting those goals.  Additionally, VOC staff is actively working towards meeting NCAA and Advanced Placement options for our students.

Students will approach the challenges of life with intelligence and passion.

a. Students are allowed time to pursue their own individual interests; b. Students are encouraged to engage in inquiry-based learning that arises out of their own curiosity; c. Students are challenged to understand problems, not just solve them.

The Valley Oak Educational Program

Valley Oak Charter families maintain primary responsibility for their children’s education.  While Valley Oak Charter offers the support of credentialed teachers, subject specialists, administrative staff, free curriculum materials, site-based classes, and educational field trips, it is up to the individual family to decide how to best educate their children within the guidelines of the State frameworks and Common Core standards.  Parents, with guidance from a Supervising Teacher, use district and State standards to create Goals and Objectives for the year; each student’s individual learning plan is also tailored to meet their own personal interests, needs, and learning styles.  Working together, parent, student, and Supervising Teacher assess the student’s progress, identifying areas of strength and weakness.  From these assessments, Goals and Objectives are written as an individual learning plan. Students identified as functioning significantly below grade level are given a learning plan that will help them increase their pace of learning.  In addition, students who are significantly advanced in any subject area will also have the opportunity to work on an enrichment plan in that area.

Based on the student’s learning plan, a curriculum is selected that will allow the student to meet his or her Goals and Objectives.  While the bulk of the student’s academic work is done through independent study at home under the supervision of the parent, students come to the school on a part-time basis to take optional classes, work on group projects, and go on school field trips.  Valley Oak Charter supports many different ways of homeschooling according to each family’s unique learning style and lifestyle.  We co-create education for and with our children in a cooperative setting.

K-8 Program

For grades K through 8, parents and Supervising Teacher select an approved curriculum that will allow the student to progress at their individual pace of instruction, taking into consideration the student’s personal learning style and areas of interest.  With Valley Oak’s emphasis on supporting student learning at the individual student’s current level, curriculum choices are not necessarily driven by specific grade-level determinations.  The student’s parent(s) and Supervising Teacher work together to determine an appropriate grade designation for enrollment based on the student’s individual abilities and developmental stage.  Individual student promotion or retention is determined annually by the Supervising Teacher in collaboration with the parent and student.

Student progress in mastering the curriculum is tracked by the parent on weekly work records, which are individually monitored by the student’s Supervising Teacher.  Student work samples are also submitted four times a year to document progress.  Using in-house assessments (EdPerformance and iXL), State assessments (Smarter Balance), and progress on the assigned curriculum, adjustments can be made to the learning plan as needed.

High School Program

Students in grades 9 through 12 have two educational paths to select from, with the parent, Supervising Teacher, and student working together to make the appropriate choice by the end of the 8th grade.  The parent and student must both provide written evidence of their understanding of these options and their agreement to fulfill the option they have chosen.

Students who choose the Certificate Track select curriculum in much the same way as our program’s K-8 students, but with an added requirement of weekly assignments covering preparation for the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE).  Students who choose this path are required to register for the CHSPE in the Fall of their 10th grade year with the cost of the initial exam being paid from the student’s VOC curriculum allotment.  Should the student need to re-take the exam, subsequent testing fees become the family’s obligation.  Upon receiving a passing grade on both sections of the CHSPE, the student has fulfilled the State’s compulsory education requirement.  At this point the student may choose to finish out the year at VOC or transfer to the college or program of their choice.

Students who select the Diploma Track are offered several choices for curriculum.  These options may include use of resources such as the APEX online catalogue of classes, use of the high school textbooks and methods currently used at accredited high schools in the area, or some other accredited program that has been used successfully by other educational institutions to fulfill the State requirements for high school graduation.  The Parent Handbook and Supervising Teacher will advise each family as to which curriculum options offered at the school are transferable to other high schools and which are college preparatory (UC a-g approved).  It is the responsibility of the student and parent, based on the student’s future plans, to request inclusion in the student’s individualized learning plan courses beyond the state graduation requirements that are required for admission to college (i.e. UC a-g requirements) or some other post-secondary program.  

Parents continue in their role as at-home teacher and meet with their Supervising Teacher monthly to discuss and assess the student’s progress.  Students choosing the Diploma Track take all end-of-course tests under the direction of a VOC certificated teacher.  The student’s Supervising Teacher will be solely responsible for assigning a grade to the student’s work.  The school’s certificated staff works as a team to insure that all subject areas are monitored and evaluated by qualified teachers.  Students earn transcript credit for their work based on the requirements of the State education code and WASC.  As an accredited program, the student’s transcript is transferable to other high school programs.  Students on the Diploma Track are expected to complete each year’s work in the same manner and order as students in a traditional high school program.  VOC uses Nordhoff High School’s sequence of classes by grade and subject to determine a student’s course of study for grades nine through twelve.

Students on either the Certificate Track or Diploma Track are offered the full benefit of all other provisions of this charter, including access to district classes as appropriate.  Students in either track are offered support in accessing programming at local community colleges and/or distance learning opportunities that do not conflict with the state’s dual enrollment restrictions.

LCAP annual goals for all pupils and for each subgroup of pupils

In 2014 VOC submitted its first Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) to the California Department of Education as part of the new State Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).  The goals and actions presented in VOC’s 2014 LCAP reflect the State priorities and are aligned with the goals presented in the OUSD’s 2014 LCAP.  VOC’s goals are for all students only, as VOC has no subgroups.    The school’s LCAP goals for 2014 are on file with the district office.  The document and goals will be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

Enrollment and the Master Agreement

Students desiring to enter the program at the Valley Oak Charter will schedule a site visit.  During this initial visit, student and parent will meet with a VOC staff member for a pre-enrollment interview.  This meeting is designed to help determine if the Valley Oak Charter program is an appropriate strategy for the student-seeking enrollment.  If the placement is deemed appropriate, the enrollment process will begin.

The family will be assigned to a credentialed Supervising Teacher who will review student records and interview parent and student. Through this process, areas of strength and weakness for the individual student may be identified and help to provide a baseline indicator from which to measure growth.  The teacher will review the State Standards with the family.  The teacher, the parent, and the student will collaborate to write goals for the semester and will sign the Master Agreement. The Master Agreement will list the objectives and activities for the evaluation period.  The Work Record, Goals and Objectives, and other legal requirements will be reviewed and discussed as needed.

Students failing to comply with the terms of the Master Agreement will be subject to an evaluation by the Valley Oak Charter to determine whether it is in the student’s best interest to remain in a home-based instruction program.  Evaluation findings shall be maintained in the student’s permanent record.

Students enrolled in the Valley Oak Charter whose first language is not English will be identified through the Home Language Survey upon enrollment.  Students requiring assessment based upon response to the Home Language Survey will be assessed in English to determine English proficiency and proficiency in their native language.  Timelines and reporting of results will be administered according to state and federal regulations.  Students requiring assessment in a language other than English will be assessed with current California State adopted achievement tests. Assessments in languages other than Spanish will be developed and administered in consultation with the parents.

Special Education

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, students attending the Valley Oak Charter who qualify for special education and whose IEP team has determined that independent study is an appropriate instructional method will receive their identified services from Valley Oak Charter. EC Section 51745(c) prohibits special education students from participating in independent study programs unless independent study is identified in their IEP as an appropriate instructional method.  VOC will operate as an independent LEA for Special Education services.  The Charter will follow all current and future Ventura County SELPA regulations, practices and policies as applicable to its program.

School Calendar

Valley Oak Charter Board of Directors sets the annual calendar, insuring that it meets state guidelines for Independent Study charter schools.

Element #2: Measurable Pupil Outcomes

The measurable pupil outcomes identified for use by the charter school. Pupil outcomes, for purposes of this part, means the extent to which all pupils of the school demonstrate that they have attained the skills, knowledge, and attitudes specified as goals in the school’s educational program.

        In general, Valley Oak Charter students will be expected to master the exit outcomes identified for the Ojai Unified School District.  These include:

Academic literacy: All students will be able to communicate effectively. Every student will become a proficient listener, speaker, reader and writer.

All students will demonstrate critical thinking skills. Every student will be able to synthesize, analyze, interpret, create and evaluate.

Every student will know how to access the necessary information needed to formulate a hypothesis, test it, and come to some conclusion. All students will acquire an essential body of knowledge.  Every student will know and be able to work with core materials from all disciplines as defined by the Common Core Standards, the California State Frameworks, and the Model Curriculum Standards: from the Arts to the Sciences. Every student will have basic technological literacy.

Cultural and Social literacy: All students will demonstrate responsible citizenship. Every student will be able to accept diversity and contribute to a multi-cultural society. Every student will make choices that demonstrate the values of accountability and prompt, consistent attendance. Every student will learn to be environmentally responsible.

Emotional and Physical literacy:  All students will demonstrate respect for a healthy mind and body.   Every student will have the knowledge necessary to practice lifelong wellness.

Relevancy: All students will understand the relevancy of their studies to their future. 

Measurable student outcomes that address these broader standards will be written in collaboration between the parent, student and Valley Oak Charter staff. The California State Standards will guide these outcomes with respect for the individual strengths of each child. Each family will be provided with Standards-based grade-level expectancies and with input and guidance from their teacher will align their student’s instruction with the grade-level expectancies. All parties will sign The Master Agreement once a semester in which each child’s educational goals are outlined. Student progress meetings will be scheduled as needed and at the discretion of either the teacher or the parent. Student work records are submitted weekly; student’s original work is collected four times each year or as directed by the VOC Board of Directors.  The Supervising Teacher retains ultimate responsibility for gauging the student’s educational progress.  

Element #3: Methods to Assess Pupil Progress Toward Meeting Outcomes

The method by which pupil progress in meeting those outcomes is to be measured.

VOC Supervising Teachers assess each student’s progress on the State standards using an interview process and EdPerformance benchmark tests at the beginning and end of the school year.

  1. At the beginning of the school year, the student completes a series of EdPerformance assessments to determine which grade-level standards need to be learned.
  2. The Supervising Teacher reviews the student’s assessment data during a meeting with the family; this information, along with the student’s interests, is used to create Goals & Objectives for the year.  These Goals & Objectives make up the student’s individual learning plan.
  3. At the end of the school year, the student completes the EdPerformance assessments again to assess which learning objectives identified at the beginning of the year have been mastered and which are still “in progress.”  
  4. The student’s weekly work records document progress on the other student outcomes listed in the District Outcomes above.  

Valley Oak Charter students participate in individual learning activities at home and group learning activities on campus that are supported and documented by the parents in the weekly Work Record.  These activities are aligned with the student’s individual learning plan (which is based upon District exit outcomes and state standards).  Demonstration of knowledge and academic skills may also utilize authentic performance-based assessments that may include student portfolios, journals, presentations, observations, or teacher-student-parent evaluations.

Parents will submit the completed Work Record each week and provide student work as requested in order to document their child’s learning activities and progress.  The attendance policy (two hours minimum per week) facilitates the collection of required documents and maintains the teacher-child relationship.  These relationships allow for individual, frequent, informal assessments.  The state mandates that all children participate in the annual spring testing cycle.  Although State law (AB 265) states that parents have the right to waive the testing requirements, as State law is superseded by Federal law, enrollment at VOC constitutes the parent’s agreement to cooperate fully with all mandated testing.  

Individual student progress may also be assessed through one or more of the following:

For high school students on the Diploma Track, progress will be measured by unit tests, mid-terms, and finals.  All mid-terms and finals are proctored and graded by appropriate VOC certificated teachers.

The Supervising Teacher will determine from these assessments the progress a student is making towards standards.  The Supervising Teacher, with input from the parent and the student, will prepare a summary of the student’s progress for the year.  A written copy of the Annual Student Evaluation will be provided to the parent and a copy will be placed in the student’s permanent file.  The Valley Oak Charter expects 75% of the students enrolled to successfully meet the goals of their student learning plan (as assessed by the Valley Oak Charter teachers) and proceed to the next grade level.  API school-wide growth targets for 2015-16 are 5 points.  VOC has no significant subgroups.

New School-wide Assessment Goal from WASC

Mandated statewide tests do not accurately measure school-wide academic growth at VOC due to the school’s small testing numbers, mobile student population, and highly individualized approach to education.  As a three-year goal, the WASC visiting team recommended that the school develop its own measure of school-wide progress:  

The Leadership Team and Faculty should develop a school-wide assessment process that gathers learning data from multiple sources, analyzes it, draws conclusions, and creates recommendations so the learning results can be used to improve the instructional program.

This process is in development, and will be fully implemented in the 2016-17 school year.

Element #4: Governance Structure of the School

The governance structure of the school, including, but not limited to, the process to be followed by the school to ensure parental involvement.

The Valley Oak Charter will be operated by a non-profit organization pursuant to the Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law.  Under this law, the Ojai Unified School District shall not be liable for debts or obligations of the Valley Oak Charter.  A copy of the articles of incorporation and bylaws are currently on file with the Ojai Unified School District.  

The Valley Oak Charter Board of Directors will consist of six (6) voting members.

(1) The current school Director.

(2) A community member, appointed by the VOC BOD  

(3) A district representative, appointed by The Ojai Unified School District.

(4) A representative of the staff, elected by that group.  

(5/6) Two parent members, elected by the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC).

Current Valley Oak Board of Directors:

        Laura Fulmer, the school’s Director

        Martha Fellows, community member

        Danni Pusatere, OUSD representative

        Kara Lakes, staff representative

        Barbara Amador Keenan, parent representative

        Teresa Steppe, parent representative

The student body will elect one student to serve in an advisory capacity to the BOD on issues of concern to the student body.  Terms for elected Board members shall be for two years.  The Governing Board shall determine bylaws, which will specify how open seats will be filled, if one opens before the designated election time. Board meetings will be held monthly.  Meeting times, dates, and frequency may be changed as needed by Valley Oak Charter Board action.


In addition to the Valley Oak Charter 's Board of Directors, the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) will be formed to provide advice and counsel to the Board of Directors. The PAC shall be comprised of parents or legal guardians of children enrolled in the Valley Oak Charter and will ideally contain all parents in the Program. It will meet a minimum of two times each year. The PAC may evaluate the Valley Oak Charter program as needed. Parents will be advised of their right to participate in charter school governance in the Parent Handbook to be provided upon enrollment in the Valley Oak Charter.  

The Valley Oak Charter will be governed pursuant to this Charter and the bylaws adopted by the Board of Directors and by such amended or restated bylaws as the Board of Directors may adopt and prescribe. The Board of Director’s major roles and responsibilities will include establishing and approving all major educational and operational policies, approving all major contracts, approving the Valley Oak Charter’s annual budget, overseeing the school’s fiscal affairs, and selecting and evaluating all Charter staff. All meetings will follow procedural rules established by the Ralph M. Brown Act, California Government Code (sections 54950 and following).

The Director will administer Valley Oak Charter, with the support of staff and parent committees.  The Director and all Valley Oak Charter employees will be responsible to the Board of Directors of the Valley Oak Charter.

Current Staff at Valley Oak Charter:                                        Academic Areas/Credentials

  1. Laura Fulmer, Director/Teacher                                   English/Language Arts        
  2. Craig Walker, Assistant Director/Teacher                            History/Government          
  3. Laurie Zatkowsky, Programming Director/Teacher                   Visual Arts  
  4. Kara Lakes, Supervising Teacher                                   Performing Arts        
  5. Brice Pace, Supervising Teacher                                   Social Studies
  6. Nancy Welter, Supervising Teacher                                   Math/Science
  7. Angela Schwam, Special Education Teacher                           Special Education
  8. Christine Driggers, Administrative Assistant

Element #5: Employee Qualifications

The qualifications to be met by individuals to be employed by the school.

The Valley Oak Charter will retain or employ certificated personnel who hold a valid Commission on Teacher Credentialing certificate, credential, authorization or permit for the purposes of providing general supervision over each student’s instructional program.  Copies of each certificated staff member’s certification qualifications shall be filed with the Valley Oak Charter’s Board of Directors and with the Ojai Unified School District, and shall be open to public inspection.   The Ojai Unified School District shall maintain responsibility for ensuring that appropriate credentials are held by Valley Oak Charter staff and that all laws pertaining to school employees are followed which include, but are not limited to, credentialing, fingerprinting, and background checks.  Employees of the Valley Oak Charter will have access to all staff development and training opportunities provided by the Ojai Unified School District.


The Valley Oak Charter may also employ or retain non-certificated instructional support staff to teach non-core enrichment classes and programs under the general supervision of certificated staff, and such other classified staff as the Board of Directors deem necessary or convenient to the Valley Oak Charter’s programs and operations.  All non-instructional staff will possess training, experience and expertise appropriate to their position as determined by the Board of Directors.

The Valley Oak Charter will not discriminate in the hiring process or against any employee on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.

Element #6: Health and Safety Procedures

The procedures that the school will follow to ensure the health and safety of pupils and staff. These procedures shall include the requirement that each employee of the school furnish the school with a criminal record summary as described in Section 44237.

The Valley Oak Charter has adapted the comprehensive set of health, safety and risk management policies that are used by the Ojai Unified School District.  These policies have been in place since the school began operation in 2002 and are reviewed annually.

Element #7: Means to Achieve Racial/Ethnic Balance Reflective of District

The means by which the school will achieve a racial and ethnic balance among its pupils that is reflective of the general population residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the school district to which the Charter petition is submitted.

Traditionally families that have made alternative education choices for their children have been predominately Caucasian.  Minority families have been under-represented in these choices for a variety of reasons, some of which include a lack of confidence, limited resources, and limited knowledge about available alternative choices in education.  In the 2014-15 school year, the VOC student body included 13% minority students and we continue to expand our outreach to provide educational alternatives for all families in the Ojai Valley.

 The Valley Oak Charter will implement a student recruitment strategy that includes, but is not necessarily limited to, the following elements or strategies to attempt to achieve a racial/ethnic balance that is reflective of the Ojai Valley:

Element #8: Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements

The Valley Oak Charter will actively recruit a diverse student population from Ventura County and contiguous counties that understands and values the Valley Oak Charter’s mission and is committed to its instructional and operational philosophy.  The Valley Oak Charter identifies the following admission requirements and policies:

Pupils must be considered without regard to ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or achievement level.  A public random lottery will be held in the event that the number of students seeking admission to a given age/grade range exceeds the available capacity. A written statement, signed by the student and parent, will be maintained in the student’s permanent file verifying that her/his enrollment in the Valley Oak Charter and its homeschooling program is voluntary and that application for the student’s enrollment is made freely, voluntarily and without any coercion or inducement whatsoever.

The Valley Oak Charter shall be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices and all other operations.

The Valley Oak Charter will not charge tuition.

The Valley Oak Charter will admit any student wishing to attend the school, including students with special needs, provided that the placement is reviewed and approved as appropriate by the student’s IEP team as required by the California Education Code.

In the event that the number of students wishing to enroll exceeds the school capacity, a public random drawing will be held during the June meeting of the Valley Oak Charter Board of Directors for the following school year with preference given to the following:

Prior to students and parents being admitted into the Valley Oak Charter, they will be required to:

Parent Involvement

Parents choosing to homeschool their children accept by definition their role as the primary teacher responsible for their child’s education. The Valley Oak Charter actively encourages parent input in planning, teaching and organizing the Valley Oak Charter program.  Furthermore, as part of their agreement with the Valley Oak Charter, parents (or other designated adult) must:

  1. Participate in an orientation meeting with the staff to discuss parent responsibility and                to determine goals and objectives for individual students
  2. Teach their children in all subject areas, keep a record of studies and a file of student work for submission as requested
  3. Schedule appointments with the Charter Supervising Teacher and student at least once every semester and respond promptly to teacher’s requests for meetings or information
  4. Volunteer in the classroom once per programming trimester for each class their child attends
  5. Attend parent meetings and work days
  6. Keep current regarding events and activities offered by Valley Oak Charter
  7. Complete and submit work records and samples according to established routines agreed upon in the Master Agreement.

Element #9: Financial Audit

The manner in which annual, independent, financial audits shall be conducted, which shall employ generally accepted accounting principles, and the manner in which audit exceptions shall be resolved to the satisfaction of the chartering authority.

The Valley Oak Charter’s financial audit is currently performed in conjunction with the District’s annual audit, utilizing the same auditing firm.  District personnel who perform accounting services under the Charter’s services agreement with District as outlined by the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) assist and support in the annual audit as needed.  The audit will verify the accuracy of the Valley Oak Charter’s financial statements, attendance and enrollment accounting practices, and review Valley Oak Charter’s internal controls.  The audit will be conducted in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles applicable to the Valley Oak Charter.  To the extent required under applicable federal law, the audit scope will be expanded to include items and processes specified in any applicable Office of Management and Budget Circulars.  The Valley Oak Charter’s Director will review any audit exceptions or deficiencies and report to the Valley Oak Charter’s Board of Directors with recommendations on how to resolve them.  The Board of Directors will report to the Ojai Unified School District Board of Education regarding how the exceptions and deficiencies have been or will be resolved. Any disputes regarding the resolution of audit exceptions and deficiencies will be referred to the dispute process contained in the following section, "Resolution of Deficiencies."

In order for the Ojai Unified School District to meet its fiscal oversight and reporting responsibilities, the Valley Oak Charter will adhere to the financial and budgetary reporting requirements, timelines, recommendations, and reporting standards prescribed by the Ojai Unified School District.  The specific documents, timelines and work plan will be delineated as part of a separate oversight/business services MOU.

Resolution of Deficiencies

The Valley Oak Charter will compile and provide to the Ojai Unified School District an annual performance report.  This report will, at a minimum, include the following data:

The Valley Oak Charter and Ojai Unified School District will jointly develop the content, evaluation criteria timelines and process for the annual performance reports. The Valley Oak Charter and Ojai Unified School District will also jointly develop an annual site visitation process and protocol to enable the Ojai Unified School District to gather information as needed to confirm the Valley Oak Charter’s performance and compliance with the terms of this Charter.

Element #10: Pupil Suspension and Expulsion

The procedures by which pupils can be suspended or expelled.

Students of the Valley Oak Charter may be suspended or expelled from the Valley Oak Charter for persistent non-compliance with the terms of the Charter and the parent agreement as described in detail by Valley Oak Charter board policy or for cause specified at Education Code (sections 48900 and following).  Procedures for suspension and expulsion shall conform to the provisions of the Education Code sections (48900-48926) and the policies and administrative regulations of the Ojai Unified School District.  In the case of a previously identified student with exceptional needs who is recommended for expulsion or a suspension exceeding ten (10) consecutive school days, the following procedures apply. The pre-removal assessment and manifestation determination procedures of the IDEA as specified at United States Code (section 1415) shall be invoked prior to completion of the Education Code procedures, except as provided at subdivision (k) of Section 1415. Prior to any discontinuance of students with an IEP or Section 504, an IEP meeting will be held.  Students discontinued from Valley Oak Charter will be referred to their district of residence.

The Valley Oak Charter Director shall have the responsibility for discipline and the suspension of students not exceeding ten (10) days.  The Valley Oak Charter Board of Directors shall be responsible for expulsion proceedings. Students expelled or suspended for more than ten (10) days shall be provided with continuing education programs in accordance with Education Code section 48916.1 (except students subject to Section 48915.2(a)).  In the case of a student with previously identified exceptional needs, an IEP team-determined alternative placement as per Section 300.522 of Part 300 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations shall be made available.

Element #11: Retirement System

The manner by which staff members of the charter schools will be covered by the State Teachers Retirement System, the Public Employees’ Retirement System, or Federal Social Security.

Certificated staff at the Valley Oak Charter will participate in the State Teachers' Retirement System.   All other staff of the Valley Oak Charter will participate in the Federal Social Security system or Public Employees’ Retirement System.  As part of the current MOU services agreement, the Ojai Unified School District will provide all necessary support relating to personnel issues.

Element #12: Attendance Alternatives

The public school attendance alternatives for pupils residing within the school district who choose not to attend charter schools.

Students who opt not to enroll in the Valley Oak Charter may attend:

  1. The nearest traditional district public school
  2. Other public schools through intra-district transfer
  3. Other public schools through inter-district transfer
  4. A private school of the family’s choice

These alternatives shall be in accordance with existing enrollment and transfer policies of their district or county of residence.

Element #13: Description of Employee Rights

A description of the rights of any employee of the school district upon leaving the employment of the school district to work in a charter school, and of any rights of return to the school district after employment at a charter school.

The Valley Oak Charter shall be the exclusive public school employer of the employees of the Charter school for the purposes of the Education Employment Relation Act.  Valley Oak Charter’s certificated and classified employees shall be exempt from all statutes and regulation regulating tenure, civil service or merit systems.  Except to the extent that Valley Oak Charter may enter into a collective bargaining agreement with a PERB certified exclusive representative addressing discipline and dismissal, all Valley Oak Charter personnel shall serve at the pleasure of the Board of Directors.  The Valley Oak Charter shall comply with all applicable federal and state laws relating to employees.   Notwithstanding the foregoing, the rights of any permanent employee of the Ojai Unified School District who leaves its service to work for Valley Oak Charter to return to service in the District shall be a decision of the employing authority, either the Ojai Unified School District Superintendent of Schools or the Ojai Unified School District Board of Education, or as otherwise governed by the Education Code.  

Element #14: Dispute Resolution Process

The procedures to be followed by the charter school and the entity granting the charter to resolve disputes relating to provisions of the Charter.


The intent of this dispute resolution process is to (1) resolve disputes within the Valley Oak Charter pursuant to Valley Oak Charter policies, (2) minimize the oversight burden on the Ojai Unified School District, (3) ensure a fair and timely resolution to disputes, and (4) frame an Valley Oak Charter oversight and renewal process and timeline so as to avoid disputes regarding oversight and renewal matters.

Public Comments

The staff and Board of Directors of Valley Oak Charter and the Ojai Unified School District Board of Education agree to attempt to resolve all disputes regarding this Charter pursuant to the terms of this section.  Both shall refrain from public commentary regarding any disputes until the matter has progressed through the dispute resolution process.

Disputes Arising from Within the Valley Oak Charter

Disputes arising from within the Valley Oak Charter, including all disputes among and between students, staff, parents, volunteers, advisors, partner organizations, and Board of Directors of the Valley Oak Charter shall be resolved pursuant to policies and processes developed by the Valley Oak Charter Board of Directors and detailed in the current Conflict Resolution Policies and Procedures approved by the Board on March 6, 2003.

Except where the Ojai Unified School District has on the basis of existing facts and circumstances reasonable cause to believe that a material violation of this Charter or of applicable law has occurred, the District shall have no jurisdiction pertaining to such internal disputes within the Valley Oak Charter.  This statement shall not be construed to prohibit the OUSD from investigating disputes involving the Office of Civil Rights or those involving special education complaints or other possible law violations of the Charter.  

Excepting such cases, the County Office shall refer any such dispute as may be brought to its attention to the VOC Board of Directors for action in the first instance.  Provided that the stakeholders first exhaust their internal remedies before the VOC Board of Directors, and that the Ojai Unified School District finds reasonable cause to believe a material violation of this Charter or of applicable law has occurred, the District may review the final decision of the VOC Board at the request of a stakeholder within ten (10) calendar days.  In all other cases, the VOC Board of Directors’ decision shall be final and binding.

Disputes Between the Valley Oak Charter and the Ojai Unified School District

In the event that the Valley Oak Charter or the Ojai Unified School District have disputes regarding the terms of this Charter or any other issue regarding the Valley Oak Charter and OUSD’s relationship, both parties agree to follow the process outlined below.  The procedures herein shall not apply to disputes or issues that could constitute a material basis for revocation of the Charter.  If the OUSD Board believes it has cause to revoke this Charter it shall comply with Education Code (section 47607, subdivision ©).

In the event of a dispute between the Valley Oak Charter and Ojai Unified School District, the staff and members of the Board of Directors of VOC and OUSD agree to first frame the issue in written format and refer the issue to the OUSD Superintendent and the Valley Oak Charter Director for initial review.  The Director and Superintendent shall informally meet and confer in a timely fashion to attempt to resolve the dispute.  

In the event that this informal meeting fails to resolve the dispute, both parties shall identify two Board of Directors members from their respective boards who shall jointly meet with the Superintendent of the OUSD and Director of the Valley Oak Charter and attempt to resolve the dispute.  If this joint meeting fails to resolve the dispute, the Superintendent and Director shall meet to jointly identify a neutral, third party mediator.  The Superintendent and Director shall develop the format of the mediation session jointly. The findings or recommendations of the mediator shall be non-binding, however, both parties agree that reaching consensus is the optimum goal.  Any issues remaining unresolved after mediation will go to the chartering agency Board for final determination.

Oversight, Reporting, Revocation, and Renewal

The Ojai Unified School District may inspect or observe any part of the Valley Oak Charter at any time.

The OUSD agrees to receive and review the annual fiscal and programmatic review and annual performance report as specified in the section of this Charter related to financial and programmatic review. Within two months of the receipt of this annual review, OUSD must notify the Board of Directors of the Valley Oak Charter as to whether it considers the Valley Oak Charter to be making satisfactory progress relative to the goals specified in this Charter.  The annual notification will include specific reasons for OUSD’s conclusions.


If, in its review of the Valley Oak Charter’s annual report, OUSD determines that the Valley Oak Charter is making satisfactory progress toward its goals, the Board of Directors of the Valley Oak Charter may request from the OUSD’s Board of Education a renewal or amendment of the Charter at any time prior to expiration.  The Valley Oak Charter should present renewal requests no later than 120 days prior to the expiration of the Charter.  The OUSD’s Board of Education agrees to hear and render a renewal decision pursuant to the initial Charter petition review timelines and processes as specified in the Education Code (Section 47605).

Element # 15: Exclusive Public School Employer/Labor Relations

A declaration whether or not the charter school shall be deemed the exclusive public school employer of the employees of the charter school for the purposes of the Educational Employment Relations Act, Chapter 10.7 (commencing with Section 3540) of Division 4 of Title 1 of the Government Code.

The Valley Oak Charter shall be deemed the exclusive public school employer of the employees of this charter school for the purposes of the Education Employment Relations Act.

Element # 16: Closure Procedures

Should Valley Oak Charter require closure for any reason, the Valley Oak Board of Directors will serve as the entity responsible for conducting closure-related activities.  Should the VOC Board of Directors be unable to function in this capacity, they may sign over responsibility for this to the Ojai Unified School District.  Tasks undertaken during closure include:

  1. Notification of the closure sent to parents (guardians) of pupils, the OUSD Board, the Ventura County Office of Education, the Ventura County SELPA, the retirement systems for VOC employees (CalPERS and CalSTRS), and the California Department of Education.
  2. Notification to the entities above will include at least the following:
  1. The effective date of the closure;
  2. The name(s) of and contact information for the person(s) to whom reasonable inquiries may be made regarding the closure;
  3. The pupils’ school districts of residence; and
  4. The manner in which parents (guardians) may obtain copies of pupil records, including specific information on completed courses and credits that meet graduation requirements.
  1. Provision of a list of pupils in each grade level and the classes they have completed, together with information on the pupils’ district of residence, to the responsible entity designated above.
  2. Transfer and maintenance of personnel records in accordance with applicable law.
  3. Completion of an independent final audit within six months after the closure of the school that may function as the annual audit, and that includes at least the following:
  1. An accounting of all financial assets, including cash and accounts receivable and an inventory of property, equipment, and other items of material value.
  2. An accounting of the liabilities, including amounts payable and any reduction in apportionments as a result of audit findings or other investigations, loans, and unpaid staff compensation.
  3. An assessment of the disposition of restricted funds received by or due to the charter school.
  1. Disposal of any net assets remaining after all liabilities of the charter school have been paid or otherwise addressed, will be as follows:
  1. Grant funds and categorical funds will be returned to their source in accordance with the terms of the grant or state and federal law, as appropriate, which may include submission of final expenditure reports for entitlement grants and the filing of any required Final Expenditure Reports and Final Performance Reports.
  2. Donated materials and property will be returned in accordance with any conditions established when the donation of such materials or property was accepted.
  3. Completion and filing of any annual reports required pursuant to Education Code Section 47604.33.
  4. Disposition of any remaining funds and property after a – c are completed, will be determined by the VOC Board at the time of closure.
  1. Completion and filing of any annual reports required pursuant to Education Code Section 47604.33.
  2. Identification of funding for the activities identified in #1-7 above.

Miscellaneous Provisions:


The term of this Charter renewal shall begin on the day the previous Charter expires, and end five years thereafter.


Any amendments to this Charter shall be made by the mutual agreement of the Board of Directors of the Valley Oak Charter and Ojai Unified School District Board of Education.  Material revisions and amendments shall be made pursuant to the standards, criteria, and timelines in Education Code (Section 47605).


The terms of this Charter contract are severable.  In the event that any of the provisions are determined to be unenforceable or invalid for any reason, the remainder of the Charter shall remain in effect, unless mutually agreed otherwise by the Ojai Unified School District Board of Education and Board of Directors of the Valley Oak Charter.  The OUSD and the Valley Oak Charter agree to meet to discuss and resolve any differences relating to invalidated provisions in a timely, good faith fashion.


Any facility selected by the Valley Oak Charter shall meet federal, state, and/or local building and safety codes and requirements.  The Ojai Unified School District has the right to inspect, review, and approve any facility selected by the Valley Oak Charter to ensure that student safety is met.  If the Valley Oak Charter cannot find a suitable location for the school, the Ojai Unified School District and the Valley Oak Charter will negotiate a facilities lease for appropriate District classroom space.

For the 2015-16 school year, Valley Oak Charter will continue at its current location: 907 El Centro, in Ojai, California.  This is a leased school facility, owned by the Ojai Valley Community Church; it was formerly a private school operated by the church.  Valley Oak has purchased a buildable lot on Saint Thomas Drive in Ojai. The Board of Directors is now in the design phase for a new campus that will adhere to all State and local building codes.  Fundraising for the school will begin once initial plans for the school are completed.  

Civil Liability

Pursuant to Education Code Section 47604(c), any entity that grants a charter to a charter school operated by, or as, a non-profit public benefit corporation shall not be liable for the debts or obligations of the charter school or for claims arising from the performance of acts, errors or omissions by the charter school if the authority has complied with all oversight responsibilities required by law. As such, the Charter School shall work diligently to assist the District in meeting any and all oversight obligations under the law, including monthly meetings, reporting, or other District-requested protocol to ensure the District shall not be liable for the operation of the Charter School.

The Board of Directors has instituted appropriate risk management practices including employee screening, the establishment of codes of conduct for students, staff, and participating families, and procedures governing financial transactions and dispute resolution.

The School has purchased general liability insurance to secure against financial risks with the District named an additional insured on the general liability insurance of the School. Insurance amounts are determined by recommendation of the School’s insurance company for schools of similar size, location, student population and type of program.


Valley Oak Charter annually prepares and submits the following reports to the District and the County Superintendent of Schools as prescribed in Education Code section 47604.33:

  1. On or before July 1, a preliminary budget for the current fiscal year
  2. On or before December 15, an interim financial report for the current fiscal year reflecting changes through October 31
  1. Additionally, by December 15, a copy of the School’s annual, independent financial audit report for the preceding fiscal year is delivered to the State Controller and the California Department of Education
  1. On or before March 15, a second interim financial report for the current fiscal year reflecting changes through January 31
  2. On or before September 15, a final unaudited report for the full prior year
  1. The report submitted to the Ventura County Office of Education includes an annual statement of the receipts and expenditures for the preceding fiscal year

Copies of the Year-end 2013-14 Budget and the Findings pages of the 2013-14 Audit Report are included with this petition as Addendum ‘E’.

VOC plans and manages its own budget for all applicable state and federal categorical funds, lottery funds, discretionary funds, additional ADA monies generated, grants, donations, fundraisers and gifts. The Valley Oak Charter’s financial audit is currently performed in conjunction with the District’s annual audit, utilizing the same auditing firm.  District personnel who perform accounting services under the Charter’s services agreement with District (as outlined in the current MOU) assist and support in the annual audit as needed.  The audit is conducted in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles applicable to VOC and the State Controller’s adopted K12 audit guide as applicable to charter schools.

The audit, at a minimum, verifies the accuracy of the school’s financial statements, revenue-related data collection and reporting practices, and examines VOC’s internal controls. To the extent required under applicable federal law, the audit scope will be expanded to include items and processes specified in applicable Office of Management and Budget Circulars. It is anticipated that the annual audit will be completed within six months of the close of the fiscal year. A copy of the auditor’s findings will be forwarded to the Ojai Unified School District, the County Superintendent of Schools, the State Controller and to the CDE by December 15 of each year.

The Director reviews any audit exceptions or deficiencies and reports to the Board of Directors the necessary actions the School needs to take to correct any program inconsistencies. Audit exceptions and deficiencies shall be resolved to the satisfaction of OUSD. Any disputes regarding the resolution of audit exceptions and deficiencies are referred to the dispute resolution process contained in this Charter.


The Valley Oak Charter will contract with the Ojai Unified School District or a District approved provider for Liability coverage. Valley Oak Charter agrees to complete and sign all “hold harmless” and other documentation requested by the District’s insurance company.

District Services Agreement

The Valley Oak Charter shall contract back from the Ojai Unified School District for the term of this renewal a number of administrative, financial, and educational services.  This agreement is based upon the Valley Oak Charter complying with all Ojai Unified School District procedures relating to these services.  Services contracted for under the terms of this renewal are detailed in the current MOU along with the schedule of fees paid by the Charter to the District for these services.  A copy of the 2013-14 Services Agreement is included as Addendum ‘F’.

Charter Size

        Enrollment at Valley Oak Charter may not exceed seventy-five (75) students at any given time.  This number may be increased if mutually agreed upon by the Ojai Unified School District Board of Education and the Valley Oak Charter Board.


‘A’~ WASC Initial Visit Report and comments

‘B’~ Testing scores

‘C’~ Letters of support

‘D’~ EdPerformance sample (student’s name removed for privacy)

‘E’~ Financials:  2013-14 budget/end-of-year; 2013-14 audit report/Findings

‘F’~ SpEd MOU; Services MOU (2013-14 agreement, now under revision by OUSD staff)