Is Olympic Peninsula Academy, A Publicly Funded Private School?
During the last three Sequim School Bond request it had come to my attention that the Sequim School District houses and pays for, with our tax dollars, the Olympic Peninsula Academy/Alternative Learning Experience, (OPA/ALE) for home schooled students.
My wife Floie and I have discussed the OPA/ALE with Sequim School District Director of Business Operation Brian Lewis,
Superintendent Gary Neal, School Board President Jim Stoffer and Citizens for Sequim Schools and attempted to point out that the OPA/ALE is nothing more than a private school within the Sequim School District. We were met with denial, condescension and the statement that OPA/ALE is a public school, funded under WAC 392-121-182 Alternative learning experience requirements.
This WAC states very clearly the requirements of an Alternative Learning Experience and requires that the district provide “substantially similar experiences and services” for the student enrolled in the districts regular instructional program that are provided to the OPA/ALE students and that the ALE is accessible to all students.
“(k) “Substantially similar experiences and services” means that for each purchased or contracted instructional or cocurricular course, lesson, trip, or other experience, service, or activity identified on an alternative learning experience written student learning plan, there is an identical or similar experience, service, or activity made available to students enrolled in the district’s regular instructional program:”
“(6) Alternative learning experience implementation requirements:
(a) School districts or charter schools that offer alternative learning experience courses or course work must ensure that they are accessible to all students, including students with disabilities.
Alternative learning experience courses or course work for special education students must be provided in accordance with chapter 392-172A WAC.”
We have since found out, through a public information request, presented to the Sequim School District, that the OPA/ALE enrollment is comprised solely of 101 home schooled students and not one single student from the school’s regular instructional program.
OPA/ALE enrollment requires an application, interview and waiting list process just like any other private school. There are currently 48 regular instructional program students on the waiting list for the OPA/ALE according to the schools response to my public information request.
Of the problems with the school bonds not passing, this may be one obstacle. The district spent $300,000.00 only 2 years ago to remodel the current OPA/ALE building into 8 classrooms for 14 teachers. The last failed bond asked for $2.1 million to remodel Helen Haller for the OPA/ALE and an additional $900,000.00 to re-remodel the building back into the maintenance and warehouse building for the school district. $2.1 million is a ridiculous amount to spend to re-relocate, what appears to be, for all intense and purpose, a private academy for home schooled students, emphasis on home schooled. Total cost of the OPA/ALE re-re-relocation $2.4 million plus the re-remodel of the current OPA/ALE building of $900,000.00 adds up to $3.3 million. A bit excessive I would say and a pretty good reason the bond failed, again.
To view my public information request and the school districts response, go to http://digginforfacts.blogspot.com/2016/02/sequim-school-district-response-to.html