"In enacting this chapter, the Legislature"finds and declares that access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state."
- California Government Code
While the North Valley Military Institute's alleged violations of the law are all concerning, none are more troubling than the accusations of sexual misconduct. These have included a lawsuit claiming that an administrator sexually assaulted students and then retaliated against parents who reported those actions. Accusations have also been made that NVMI students have assaulted and harassed students at Valley Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (VOCES), the public school where the charter is co-located under the rules of PROP-39.
A tip received from a concerned community member suggests that a sexually charged culture is something that may have been inherited from the school's sister organization in Oakland. Reports indicate that the Oakland Military Institute College Preparatory Academy has also been the subject of lawsuits and other complaints alleging sexual improprieties.
Interested in knowing the details of these complaints, I sent the following Public Records Act (PRA) request on April 24, 2022:
Pursuant to my rights under the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.), I ask to obtain a copy of the following, which I understand to be held by your agency:1) Any complaint filed with the school against Coty Tschappat. The period of time covered by this request is January 1, 2001, through April 24, 2022, inclusive.
2) Any general parent communication that includes the name "Coty Tschappat." The period of time covered by this request is January 1, 2001, through April 24, 2022, inclusive.
3) Any lawsuit or complaint filed by or against the Oakland Military Institute that includes the name "Coty Tschappat." The period of time covered by this request is January 1, 2001, through April 24, 2022, inclusive.
4) Any lawsuit or complaint filed by or against the Oakland Military Institute that includes the words and/or phrases: "sex", "Jackson", "rape", "bathroom", "restroom" or "breach of contract".
The period of time covered by this request is January 1, 2001, through April 24, 2022, inclusive. I ask for a determination on this request within 10 days of your receipt of it, and an even prompter reply if you can make that determination without having to review the record[s] in question.
If I can provide any clarification that will help expedite your attention to my request, please contact me at 818-XXX-XXXX. I ask that you notify me of any duplication costs before you duplicate the records so that I may decide which records I want you to copy.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
Under California law, I should have received a reply within ten business days. This statutory deadline does not require that the documents be turned over, only that an initial response is provided confirming that there is material available that matches the request. A month after sending my email, I have not received any correspondence from the school beyond the initial automated reply confirming receipt.
The founder of the charter school is Edmund Gerald (Jerry) Brown, Jr., the former governor of California. Brown currently serves as the Chairman of OMI's Board of Directors. As someone who has spent decades in public service, Brown should be well acquainted with the requirements of the California PRA.
With ignorance of the law taken away as a possible excuse for neglecting to follow the law, one has to wonder if something is being hidden by Brown and the school that he is responsible for. More importantly, the question arises if the reported lawsuits at the two schools share perpetrators. If this is the case, it would appear that the schools shifted adults around to protect them from accountability instead of putting the safety of children first.
As the LAUSD Board Member representing VOCES, Kelly Gonez should be taking the lead in ensuring that this information is available to the public. However, the hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent on her behalf by supporters of the charter industry probably diminishes her will to confront any of these publicly funded private schools.
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