NovoMetro

Education in Oakland

The Chron on UPrep and Haqq Fights Back

Posted by novometro on July 8, 2007

The San Francisco Chronicle has a story Sunday about Uprep’s myriad troubles, as well as a sidebar about Isaac Haqq’s previous life as a Pasadena city councilman. I wrote about Uprep and Mr. Haqq last month. Mr. Haqq let the Chronicle take his photograph, a privilege he denied to us. His exact quote was, “I don’t care about your little website.” The Chronicle’s higher profile must have seduced him. His entire career seems devoted to proving wrong the adage that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

Perhaps in anticipation of the Chronicle piece, Uprep reportedly sent this letter to parents on Thursday.

July 5, 2007

Dear UPREP Parents,

We have a crisis and we need your help.

Last year UPREP hired an employee to help our students continue excelling on standardized exams. The employee worked for salary, and was promised a bonus for superior scores. Unfortunately, the tests for the state, known as STAR tests, were mailed late. The employee admitted mailing the exams late and was fired. The matter is now in litigation.

We were informed by the state later the next school year that many answers had been erased and changed from wrong to right. We can’t prove it, but we believe it is not a coincidence that the tests were mailed late. The employee used the time to change the answers to increase his bonus. Period!!

Unfortunately, UPREP got the blame and the state nullified our 2006 scores.

Now the state is calling our 2007 scores into question. Apparently another ex-employee called the state after he ‘found’ a test booklet from the 2005 exam. This booklet was never used to prepare our kids. We believe the booklets came from the fired employee.

Over 59 colleges and universities have accepted our students. They’ve offered our students over $12 million dollars in financial aid. We are a good school, a hard working school that stays open for 11 months and allows students to take college classes. We don’t have to cheat, but people are treating us like we do.

It’s time to fight back. We are organizing a parent meeting at the Oakland Unified School District for August 8th at 6pm. We will speak briefly and leave, asking only that the evidence be reviewed, and that we be treated fairly. We are providing transportation, babysitting, and dinner. Please bring your supporters. We need them.

Sincerely,

Uprep Staff

P.S.

One more thing: The press will be reporting that UPREP’s founder once served on the Pasadena City Council. He changed the voting districts and increased minority council representation 200%. He got benefits and vacation for 200 minority employees that had none before. And he steered over $500 million in affordable housing and commercial development to the minority area of Pasadena. He is very proud of his accomplishments.

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5 Responses to “The Chron on UPrep and Haqq Fights Back”

  1. Caroline said

    Those of us who follow charter schools scams are impressed with the dodge of reclassifying most of the school as 12th-graders so they’ll be exempt from testing. Clever!

  2. Caroline said

    And also by the way, thanks for the early reporting on this school, which has kept me checking NovoMetro regularly despite being a San Franciscan.

  3. Michael said

    Apparently “increased minority council representation 200%” means “got elected.” There was one African-American councilman before he was elected (who, incidentally, had to take out a restraining order against Haqq), and two after he was elected. Haqq seems to have confused “200% more than” with “200% of.”

  4. Hanna said

    I second Caroline’s 2nd comment. Given the lack of oversight over the schools (the issues at Uprep are in many cases several many years old), it’s great that there is a site for getting information out (thanks, Alex). Wish it were more widely known among educators. In the hope that there already are a number of smart teachers and counselors reading this blog, though: what could be a good next move for Uprep students? The problems are out in the daylight, which is good, but that does not in and of itself solve them.

    So, on the one hand there are the top track students at Uprep, the students in the ‘flagship class’ in Haqq’s parlance, who in many cases are reasonably well prepared for college but now have their credentials called into doubt for all college admissions personnel to see. A number of these kids have decent AP and SAT scores to refer to, though – external measures of the quality of their work – and they could manage. Then there are the middle and lower track kids, for whom the discrepancy between what they actually know and what is on their transcript is generally greater: for example, their actual skill level in math could easily be three years, and often much more, behind what their transcripts purport. It could be hard for these kids to find the motivation, not to mention the resources or financial aid, to repeat courses that they have received credit for but that they do not master – but then if they don’t they’re going to hit the wall quite forcefully if they attempt a math course that builds on what their transcripts claim that they have learned.

    What can they do? How can they get a direct, honest assessment of where they are and what courses they should take next? How do they find a high school for their next year or two that can fill in some of the gaps in their education? What if they have just “completed” high school? What counseling resources might be available to them? Most of the kids do not even know how to go about finding a new high school and enrolling, let alone how to determine appropriate course placement.

    So, again, while the problems are now being aired, that does not mean that they are solved. For many parents and students of Uprep, this is just the opening up of a tragedy. What could they do next? I wish I knew.

  5. Michael said

    I hope that there is some legal remedy available for the students and their families. Obviously Haqq, and not just the school, should be held responsible. I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know whether there is any way to hold UPrep’s board personally responsible for his behavior. Certainly some of it was perfectly predictable. Some members of the board were Haqq’s cronies in Pasadena, and so knew of his violent propensities. Some of the charges detailed by Novometro and the Chronicle were from as late as 1997. UPrep opened in 2001, and must have been in planning in 1999, if not earlier. So Board members like Deadrick worked to put Haqq in charge of dozens of employees and hundreds of students only two years, maybe less, after Haqq’s Pasadena reign of terror. According to LA Times articles from the 90s, at least three different unions complained to the city that Haqq created a hostile work environment. How do you make a guy like that a manager? How do you pretend you couldn’t see it coming? I’m all for giving a guy a second chance, but….

    By the way, Haqq’s constant racial politics are wearing thin. When he was cited for brandishing a gun, young African-American men were his targets. Most of the students he put his hands on at UPrep were young African-American men. One of the unions who complained to the Pasadena City Council represented mostly Latino employees.

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