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San Mateo, Calif. rejects Mandarin immersion charter

February 5, 2015

One board member was especially concerned that it wouldn’t meet the needs of special education students.

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County board unanimously denies Mandarin immersion charter school proposal
by Barbara Wood / Almanac

The San Mateo County Board of Education on Wednesday night, Feb. 4, unanimously denied the Menlo Mandarin Immersion Charter School’s proposal to open a new school in the Menlo Park City School District.

The county board used as its grounds for denying the petition a report by county staff analyzing the petition to open a Mandarin immersion charter school next fall.

Board members said they found that the charter petition had too many flaws to be approved. The petition, if approved, becomes the governing blueprint for a charter school and can only be changed by a vote of the group originally granting it.

“I can only vote to deny this appeal,” said board member Joe Ross, who represents the Menlo Park district area. “I don’t think it would do the public, or the community, or the parents, any good to move forward with this petition. He pointed to a requirement in the school’s petition that all students in second grade and beyond must pass a Mandarin proficiency test to be admitted to the school. County staff said that requirement violates a state law that says all students who want to attend a charter must be admitted if there is room for them.

“I am afraid that this assumes that all students beyond second grade who do not speak Mandarin actually can not learn at this school,” Mr. Ross said.

Board member Susan Alvaro said she was concerned about the lack of specifics about how the school would deal with special education students. “I am really concerned about the students in our county who are struggling and not making it,” she said.

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