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February 11, 2010 (La Mesa) – Tonight the Grossmont-Union High School District  voted 4-0 to send a notice of intent to revoke the charter from Helix Charter High School.  A public hearing will be held next month.  (for background, see our previous story.) Now Helix supporters are firing back—contending that the district’s motives may be financial, not altruistic.

Barry Tarvin, former parent of a Helix student and a substitute teacher in the district, suggests the GUHSD board has a financial motive to close its growing budget gap.


“When the district refused to sign off on Helix's last teacher contract, Helix was forced to totally sever all financial ties with the district,” he noted. “This was during that long and heated negotiation the district had with its teachers. The district did not want to sign off on Helix's contract because it was very close to what the district teachers wanted, and I guess they believed that it would hurt their negotiating position.Since Helix became totally independent, all state money goes directly to the school, and it does not pass through the district as it used to. The district used to siphon dollars off for whatever reason it could come up with, but now they can't.”


In a press conference this evening, Helix officials accused the district of refusing to meet with them despite five separate attempts to resolve the district’s concerns. “District reps have employed slander, innuendo and out-and-out lying in what we can only assume is an effort to damage the school for its own financial gain,” said Carly Singer, Board Chair for Helix Charterl, Channel 10 News reported.


The district has cited concerns over student safety following arrest of vice principal, Josh Stepner, who resigned after police charged him with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Stepner gave Dakota Garza, a student, a ride to a bus station without informing her parents. There is no evidence of any sexual misconduct, drugs or alcohol, police have stated. Stepner is currently awaiting trial.


Helix previously faced threats of a charter revocation after four teachers were convicted of sexual misconduct with students. The district backed down after Helix agreed to make procedural changes aimed at preventing a recurrence.


If the board does opt to revoke the charter, Helix has the option to appeal to the County Office of Education or the State. Rumors are also afoot that another district has offered to take on the Helix charter, should the GUHSD revoke it. 

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