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Community College Board To Consider Lease To Charter School

To give its approval the Trustees would have to ignore allegations of "illegal fiscal practices," sexual abuse, and mismanagement by NVMI.

By Carl J. PetersenPublished 4 months ago 5 min read

We write to exert warning about the pattern of fraud, gross mismanagement, and waste of taxpayer money perpetuated by the North Valley Military Institute (NVMI) a rogue charter school here in L.A. on the brink of collapse.

– East Area Progressive Democrats

Having turned down a PRO-39 offer from the LAUSD, the only option left for Dr. Mark Ryan and the remaining management of the North Valley Military Institute is a proposed lease agreement with the Los Angeles Mission College. Otherwise, the charter school will have no other place to conduct classes when the new school year begins.

Approval of this lease appears on the agenda for a regular meeting of the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at 1:00. The public can attend the meeting in person in the Board Room at the Educational Services Center located at 770 Wilshire Boulevard. It will also be streamed on Zoom and on YouTube. I have sent the following email to make the case for the Trustees to reject this proposed lease:

On the agenda of the meeting on June 7, 2023, is a proposal to “Authorize Lease of District Facilities at Los Angeles Mission College” to the North Valley Military Institute (NVMI) College Preparatory charter school. When considering this proposal, I hope that you will ask questions about the pervasive operational difficulties that NVMI has faced throughout its entire history. Unless you can be given concrete assurances that the school can fulfill its obligations under this agreement, you have a fiducial responsibility to reject the proposal.

While NVMI’s management likes to blame others for these problems (most recently saying that their financial problems are because the LAUSD would not fulfill its PROP-39 request to be on one campus), the facts show that there is a lack of organization controls that have caused problems to multiply. As the latest example, the Board of Trustees voted to approve a land use agreement for space on the Mission Hills campus despite the fact this document was not available for them to review.

It has also just been revealed that NVMI is undergoing an “extraordinary audit” after spending over $90,000 of public funds for a “leadership retreat” to Las Vegas. The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), which has responsibility for oversight over this school, has “reason to believe that fraud, misappropriation of funds, or other illegal fiscal practices may have occurred” in the expenditures for this trip.

When the NVMI charter was last submitted for renewal, the LAUSD Board rejected it citing poor student achievement, poor financial condition, and management that was less than proficient. The school appealed this decision to the county and the Los Angeles Office of Education (LACOE) staff also recommended a denial. Unfortunately, this recommendation was rejected by the LACOE Board. Dr. Monte E. Perez recused himself from the vote due to his relationship with Dr. Ryan and NVMI but still involved himself in the discussion despite the admitted conflict of interest. This Board needs to ask if these same conflicts were present during the lease agreement negotiations and if they were, did Dr. Perez take the steps to make sure that he had no influence over the decisions being made.

As predicted by both the LAUSD and LACOE staff, NVMI is currently on the verge of implosion. According to Dr. Ryan, it will end the fiscal year with just $18,000 in the bank. This calls into question the school’s ability to meet the financial obligations of a lease that lasts two years. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the school will maintain the charter from LACOE that it needs in order to continue operation. Not only has NVMI not yet filed the required Material Revision with LACOE to reflect the changes in its program that will occur if the proposed move occurs, but the ongoing fiscal audit over its allegedly illegal financial practices could also result in the charter’s revocation.

There are also questions about the effect moving to a college-based program will have on the 20.8% of NVMI students who have disabilities. Dr. Ryan has warned families that IEPs will not be honored in classes taught by Mission College staff, which is a direct violation of student rights under FAPE. Additionally, he has said that the availability of special day classes for those with the most severe needs is dependent on the number of students with these needs that are still enrolled after the proposed move. Not offering these classes when they are specified in an IEP would also be a violation of the law.

A lease agreement of four rooms calls into question how the school plans to operate on the campus, especially if the current enrollment requires space for Special Education day classes. While the financial terms of the lease were included in the published Agenda Item Details, nothing is said about how the charter high school will be integrated with the operations of the college.

Finally, I hope that you will take into account the lack of female empowerment in the NVMI program. The demographic data shows that only 37.5% of the student body identifies as female. Also, according to reports from the public school where NVMI is currently co-located, sexual harassment and bullying are rampant. The school also faced an allegation of allowing conditions where “abhorrent child sex abuse” occurred. This lawsuit also included an allegation that parents who reported this abuse were subject to retaliation.

The subject of charter schools versus public schools is an issue that divides those in the education community. However, the matter of North Valley Military Institute is one that should rise above politics. While the school’s aspirations may be laudable, it has repeatedly failed in implementation. Whatever metric you want to use, academic achievement, financial stability, or governance, NVMI is failing and children are being harmed. Please do not let these failures continue on an LACCD campus.

Thank you,

Carl Petersen


Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for public education, particularly for students with special education needs who serves as the Education Chair for the Northridge East Neighborhood Council. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him “a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles.” For links to his blogs, please visit Opinions are his own.


About the Creator

Carl J. Petersen

Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with SpEd needs and public education. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Opinions are his own.

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