Monday, September 05, 2011


West Sacramento charter school students show up for first day; find school closed + UPDATE: West Sac charter school formally closed

Written by Karen Massie, News 10 / KXTV (Sacramento)  |

Video: Watch the story

7:36 PM, Sep 2, 2011  |  WEST SACRAMENTO, CA - The California College, Career and Technical Education Center has shutdown in West Sacramento leaving teachers and students and staff scrambling to find somewhere else to go.

Some parents apparently found out about the charter school's unexpected closure when they arrived for an orientation meeting Thursday and found the school's doors locked.

Kirsten Malork showed up Friday to find out what was going on.

"I've heard the news, I just want to see for myself," Malork said. "My son Brandon Perry was going to be enrolled in the school. I was thinking okay, great. He's going to have a sense of direction. This school looked really good. It looked promising."

When CCCTec opened last fall, every student was provided with an IPad. 

Paul Preston leads a charter school in West Sacramento and is attempting to duplicate the school in Woodland.

<< PAUL PRESTON - Dennis McCoy/Sacramento Business Journal

Owner and school superintendent Paul Preston said the school was designed for students who had struggled at other schools.  They would be able to get enough credits to graduate, as well as, learn vocational skills, such as, auto repair, woodworking and graphic design.

Preston said the school had space for 200 students. But teacher Kathryn Schroeder-Kelly said when school ended last spring only about 66 students were enrolled. 

Fewer students severely reduced the amount of per pupil funding the school received from the state.

Schroeder-Kelly said the school's money problems became apparent to teachers in February.

"My paycheck bounced," Schroeder-Kelly said. "That's when I thought, well, this is weird. But I got a cashier's check and everything was fine."

Then two months later Schroeder-Kelly said Preston informed teachers their checks would be late.

"Eventually our checks were issued," Schroeder-Kelly said. "Some went through but some of them bounced."

A letter sent from the State Board of Education to the school last June said, "CCCTec appears to have failed to meet generally accepted accounting principles, or engaged in fiscal mismanagement."

The letter said the school had not paid teachers, several vendors and had missed payments to the California State Teachers Retirement System.

Attempts to contact Preston fell short because the school's phone number rang to a busy. 

Preston posted an apology notice on the school's door blaming "budgetary confines and a lack of funding" for CCCTec's financial woes.

The school's Facebook page talked about a $750,000 grant it had received. The California Department of Education is demanding that $57,000 be returned.

Malork said she knows the school received even more money from the state. 

"What happened to the money?" Malork said. "It should have benefited the kids around here that now have no where to go."

Another notice on the school's door referred students to other schools in West Sacramento.

Schroeder-Kelly is looking for another job and said she hopes her students land in someone else's class. 

"Believe in yourselves," Schroeder-Kelly said. "Continue working and make sure you get in school and keep your eye on the prize."


West Sacramento charter school students show up for first day; find school closed

Written by Paul Janes & George Warren, News 10 / KXTV (Sacramento)  |

1:07 PM, Sep 2, 2011   - WEST SACRAMENTO, CA - Arriving students and parents were stunned to find their charter high school closed on what was supposed to be the first day of school.

A terse announcement on the Calilfornia College, Career and Technical Education Center (CCCTEC) website reported the school had been shut down because of "budgetary confines and a lack of funding."

The shutdown follows a scathing letter in June from the California State Board of Education suggesting CCCTEC had failed to meet generally accepted accounting principles or had engaged in fiscal mismanagement.

The letter said teaching staff reported the school was as much as four months behind in issuing paychecks.  Vendors also reported unpaid bills, according to the Board of Education letter.

The mother of one CCCTEC student said she showed up for orientation on Thursday to find the school locked.  She said about 40 parents waited outside for hours for an explanation that never came.

CCCTEC's website referred freshmen, sophomores and juniors to West Sac Prep Charter High School.  Seniors were referred to River City High School or Yolo High School.

We apologize for any inconvenience that this has caused your household," CCCTEC superintendent Paul Preston wrote.

UPDATE: West Sac charter school formally closed

  Written by C. Johnson, News 10 / KXTV (Sacramento)

6:05 PM, Sep 2, 2011  |WEST SACRAMENTO - Parents and students were left bewildered Thursday to find California College Career and Technical Charter High School not open and ready for the new school year.

PREVIOUS STORY: West Sacramento students find school closed on first day

Friday, the high school reactivated its website to state "due to budgetary confines and lack of funding, California College Career and Technical Charter High School is now closed."

According to a source, the first-year school was supposed to enroll around 300 students, but only 61 registered. The California Department of Education then investigated the school and uncovered irregular bookkeeping, unpaid teachers, potentially falsified attendance records and several other problems.

On the website, the school apologized for any inconvenience and said to call (916) 371-2833 to request transcripts and refunds.

Refunds for school uniforms purchased would be made within 90 days, the school promised.


smf’s 2¢: According to CCTEC’s charter petition to the State Board of Education[http://1,usa,gov/osKyOi]

  • On Nov 30, 2009 the Washington Unified School District DENIED CCTEC’s petition to start a charter School.
  • On Jan 25, 2010 the Yolo County Board of Education also DENIED CCCTEC’s petition. 
  • On Feb 5, 2010 CCTEC applied to the State Board of Ed and was AWARDED a charter on May 10, 2010.
  • CCCTEC opened in Sept 2010.
  • Preston was also attempting to open a second charter school, Woodland Polytechnic Academy, on the CCCTEC model.
  • And there’s that letter from the State Board alleging fiscal impropriety, the bounced checks, the missed payments to CALSTRS and the $750,000 grant.


Paul said...

In response to smf’s 2¢

Just to clarify your comments where you state:
"Preston was also attempting to open a second charter school, Woodland Polytechnic Academy, on the CCCTEC model."
Woodland Poly was granted its Charter by the Yolo County Office of Education In January 2011 and I Paul Preston was the lead Petitioner. The school is modeled after CCCTEC and serves a similar population of students. The school opened September 6, 2011 with 150 students which was the expected number of students to enroll. Woodland Poly is a separate corporation from CCCTEC.
You stated: "And there’s that letter from the State Board alleging fiscal impropriety, the bounced checks, the missed payments to CALSTRS"
CCCTEC responded to the allegations in a letter to the State Board July 22, 2011.
All STRS payments will be made whole when CCCTEC goes through its final closure. All bounced checks have been paid.
You Stated: "and the $750,000 grant”.
The amount of the grant award was actually greater at $1 million. The grant was divided into thirds with payments made over three years. For the 2010-2011 the amount granted to CCCTEC was $338,000. The money was used for staff salaries and supplies.
There was another “start up” grant called the Public Charter Schools Grant Program (PCSGP) that CCCTEC was granted in December 28, 2011 in the amount of $575,000. Originally this money was expected to arrive at CCCTEC by October 2010.
The first amount of money $255,000 was delayed to CCCTEC until mid February 2011 with another $49,000 coming in April 2011. (The state as it is doing with all start-up charter schools is still holding onto the remaining $271,000). This delay caused severe cash flow issues for CCCTEC. CCCTEC is not the only new charter to suffer these types of delays in cash flow from the state. In the Sac Bee this last June this editorial appeared
This is just one of the quotes from the articles:
"Add to this uncertainty a painfully slow state bureaucracy, which has been trickling out funds at a snail's pace. State funds to reimburse charter schools for lease costs in low-income areas have gone to only 40 of 300 schools. And while the state last summer celebrated getting $300 million in federal charter school startup grant funds, the state has doled out money to only 20 schools, down from the usual 55 to 65 a year. Charter schools have complained bitterly, to no avail."
To further follow-up on this article in 2109-2010 school year 104 new charter schools were funded from the PCSGP. In the 2010-2011 school year that number was 30.
In another article from the Sac Bee this last August 2011
“California loses $11.5 million in federal funding for charter schools”

Read more:
State CDE Charter Schools staff failed to report this to the State Board until this article appeared in the Sac Bee even though CDE staff were aware of the non compliance issues for over a year. The actual loss to the Charter Schools Grant Program (PCSGP) hence to new start up charter schools is $20 million at this time with the remaining $280 million at risk since the compliance issues have not been addressed by CDE staff.
This is the same staff who filed the complaints against CCCTEC.
Please feel free to contact me at 530 632-9786 or e-mail me at for further information.
Thank you

Paul Preston
Executive Director

smf said...

I certainly appreciate Mr. Preston's response. That the state and county and school districts' bureaucracies are difficult is not news to anyone. That CCCTEC was unable to navigate them is.

The secondary issue is the money. The primary issue is the kids and parents who showed up to CCCTEC on the first day of school to find their school closed and shuttered.

Mr Preston and the CCCTEC model are being given a second chance at Woodland Polytechnic Academy - but what of those kids at CCCTEC? CCCTEC was already a 'second-chance' program for many of them.

Mr. Hennager said...

You stated:

"Mr Preston and the CCCTEC model are being given a second chance at Woodland Polytechnic Academy"

- Woodland Poly is not affiliated with Mr. Preston any longer and hasn't been for the better part of this year. The Executive Director of Woodland Poly (along with the Board, surely) sought separation and money from CCCTEC and Mr. Preston.

We (the staff) have heard stories as to why the split happened but Mr. Preston can address those himself should he choose.

" - but what of those kids at CCCTEC? CCCTEC was already a 'second-chance' program for many of them."

The unceremonious end to CCCTEC this fall is proof positive that it ceased to be about the students long before it ceased to be a school.

On 1 September the administration and staff and anyone else in the building was escorted out when CCCTEC was served eviction papers. The notices are taped to the front door even now as I was there today trying to get the last of my items from my old classroom.

None of the classrooms were prepped for this coming year. None of the teacher offices of former teachers were cleaned out and ready for new staff. Though I was given no indication of employment mine was the only name left on the master schedule for this coming year, not even new teachers were named.

Evictions don't happen over night, they take months. There was no way attendance was going to pick up enough to pay back vendors, teachers, people money was borrowed from, back rent and utilities, AND fund this coming year.

The cost of maintaining a 130,000 - 160,000 square foot building (I was told both figures by different administrators) for any where from a low of 30 to no more than 115 students at any time over the last year wasn't cheap, and I guess now we know Mr. Preston wasn't too concerned about it anyway.

Mr. Preston knew it was over but either wouldn't admit it or didn't care (hubris?). If he didn't care, then what was his gain? He has not, in my estimation, been acting like a man who has lost a substantial amount of personal capitol in this investment. Instead he blames the downfall on "the state" and "bad teachers" (or, more specifically one teacher if we are to believe the teacher). Never, not at any time, has any responsibility been taken by Mr. Preston for the failure of his school.

Accounting errors was an area the state was interested in, I can forward you the information CDE has made public and also forwarded to me.

Mark Hennager
Former CCCTEC teacher.

Unknown said...


Thank you for posting our comments regarding the closure of CCCTEC.
You make an excellent point in your response: "but what of those kids at CCCTEC? CCCTEC was already a 'second-chance' program for many of them."
CCCTEC was opened with these students in mind. Most of the staff had worked with at risk students for years and were eager to serve these students. We at CCCTEC did everything we could to keep the doors open for our students including cash donations from my family to sustain the program until we could go no further.

Your right about the second chance for these students that CCCTEC represented. It's unfortunate that those who control the money to not just public charter schools but to the entire spectrum of public schools feel some how that deferrals of payments or just not paying schools the money they are legally entitled to operate is a good practice.

Our entire public education system suffers from the decisions of legislators and policy makers who do not put kids first in their decision making process. We see this played our every year as these people take public education dollars and move them to programs that feeds their political agenda or pads the pockets of their cronies. The federal government does the same thing except the pot of money they use is the Social Security system. As a new start up charter school CCCTEC was extremely venerable to the whims of these people.

Thank you.

Paul Preston
Executive Director

A. Ferrell said...

So, where did all the money go? Where did all the iPads and iMacs go? A lot of people are owed alot of money. Money we will never ever see.

Mr. Hennager said...

The iPads were stolen out of LuJuanna's office. The glass next to the door was broken out and the door opened from the inside. only the iPads were stolen: no chargers, no cords, no $700 in the cash box... Nothing was done/said about it because the insurance had lapsed.
I heard this from LuJuanna herself just last wee, (06-05-2012) at our hearing.
Good luck to you,

A. Ferrell said...

I know, but really, where did all the money go? What I am maddest about is the pay pulled from my monthly check that was to cover the summer. Really, where did it go because I never saw it. Paul should feel like he robbed teachers and students, because in the end, thats what he did. I am happy to be starting my second year in a stable teaching job. But its still painful to think of all the hardwork and energy I put into a school that was for nothing.