Everest, Sequoia district dance to familiar tune


Everest Public High School representatives have rejected a new offer of facilities from Sequoia Union High School District administrators.

The offer includes eight classrooms and an office for one year on the campus of Woodside High School. Everest expects to enroll 190 students for the 2010-11 school year, yielding a ratio of about 24 students per classroom.

Everest is echoing its 2009 response, when the district offered modular buildings on a residential lot in East Palo Alto. Everest claimed that offer was illegal and has sued. The case is ongoing.

This latest offer would move Everest, now in its first year, from an office building in Redwood City, where it has a two-year lease and an option to expand. After one year, the district would move the school to an interim site for two to three years pending construction of a permanent location.

The offer is "non-compliant" with the law in "a number of areas," said Diane Tavenner, chief executive of The Summit Institute, Everest's parent corporation, in a March 1 letter and 33-page highly technical legal analysis.

"It is our sincere hope that (the district) will once again consider all of this extensive feedback and incorporate it into a revised final offer on April 1, 2010, that will fully comply with the law," Ms. Tavenner said.

Among many complaints, Everest asserts that the district would move Everest away from a central location and transit hub, involve too many moves, treat Everest students unequally, and use improper space-allocation formulas -- all charges that, if true, violate state law.

The district "respectfully disagree(s)" with Everest's analysis, Superintendent Patrick Gemma said in an e-mail. The district's offer is "legally compliant," he said. "In the weeks ahead, we will continue our efforts to engage Summit Institute and Everest leadership in dialogue as we help to plan for a successful year for Everest students in 2010-11."

Unequal treatment?

An examination of the offer and Everest attorney Paul Minney's analysis seems to show that Everest students could not use Woodside's art, music, shop and computer lab classrooms.

Physical education facilities might be shared, but under a formula other than the one required, Mr. Minney said. Everest would have to supply its own recreational equipment, as it would computers for its computer lab and books for its library.

While Woodside teachers can work in periodically empty classrooms, Everest teachers would probably not have that privilege, Mr. Minney noted.

The district's offer would allow Everest teachers use of the staff room.

The Almanac asked Sequoia district officials for further clarification and comment ahead of the April 1 deadline, but did not receive responses by press time.

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Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 9, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Here we go again. Dr. Gemma is making his farewell tour and is still playing limbo: "How low can I go?"
It would appear that SUHSD is doing what they can to make an absolute minimum offer and then rush to hide behind a technical defense. Why would the Everest folks move from a place where there is stability for a few years to be a roaming band of noamds moving at SUHSDs will? If SUHSD were negotiating in good faith, why is it impossible to provide facilities for more than one year. The district continues to treat Everest as slightly less than an afterthought and seems surprised that relations have not improved.
I suppose the only surprising thing here is that the classrooms are all on the same campus. I was half expecting four classrooms at Woodside and four in EPA or something like that.

Like this comment
Posted by Simple Simon
a resident of Oak Knoll School
on Mar 9, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Appropriate title to this article. It is a the same old offer that doesn't solve any problem other than posture the District. I'm glad Everest is staying put. I feel sorry for the Woodside Principal, I understand he was blind-sided by the District as well when this proposal was released.

Like this comment
Posted by former M-A Parent
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 10, 2010 at 12:33 am

Here we go again! The District makes a decent offer to Everest - Woodside High School no less and notin so called remote East Palo Alto that was rejected last time because it was too remote and not in Redwood City. It is never going to be good enough for Tavenner. She wants it all. If they students want to be treated like regular students at Woodside High School then I suggest that they enroll there.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 10, 2010 at 12:20 pm

And after a year the district will move Everest to M-A and then on to Carlmont and then to Sequoia... They'll play the same shell game they played with Aurora.

Everest isn't playing their game.

Just one question that no one will ever answer - if the District's previous offers were so good and fully compliant with law (as they have asserted) why does the District keep revising its proposals? It just shows you the SUHSD has NO faith in their earlier offers.

The fact that Everest is staying put and waiting for the court to spank the district shows their confidence in their position. The fact that SUHSD keeps making new offers shows the lack of confidence in their position.

Like this comment
Posted by jim watson
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Why does the SUHS district continue to wast time and money, lots of money, making it difficult for Everest to educate our children. They are by law required to work with charter schools and treat them and our children with the respect they deserve. One in every four incomming 9th grade students applied to attend Summit or Everest charter schools. Only 200 will be accepted out of 800. This shows a huge demand for well run charter schools. The SUSH district needs to represent all, YES ALL, students in the district. 25% of the students want to be at a Summit run charter school and 75% want the traditional school. Teaching is an honorable proffesion. I do not know any teacher who would strive to only teach 75% of their students with dignity and passion. Why does the district?

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