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Tassajara Prep Charter High School Update

March 24, 2010

[UPDATE: 10/5/2011 – After a public hearing where an overwhelming majority of parents spoken in opposition to Tassajara Prep, the Dublin School Board voted to deny the Tassajara Prep charter petition (read more). Tri-Valley Learning Corp. now has the option to appeal the denial to the Alameda County Office of Education.]

[UPDATE: 8/1/2011 – Following a 3-month delay Tri-Valley Learning Corp. re-submitted a revised Tassajara Prep Charter High School petition (main document available here, and attachments available here) to the Dublin Unified School District. The process starts from the beginning, meaning the petition must go through a complete approval and appeal cycle, starting at the District and moving through the County and ultimately the State. While a Fall 2012 opening is still promised, it isn’t clear how the process, including negotiating access to District facilities (likely co-location at Dublin High School via Prop. 39), can be completed in that timeframe. A public hearing is expected in 30 days.]

[UPDATE: 4/21/2011 – Dublin Patch broke the news that Tri-Valley Learning Corp. withdrew the Tassajara Prep charter petition. Over 1,600 signatures opposing Tassajara Prep had been gathered in preparation for the State Board of Education appeal that was originally scheduled for April and then delayed. For now it appears the Dublin charter school debate has ended. Read more…] has published a series of articles on the Tassajara Prep charter high school debate to help Dublin parents make an informed decision on the issue.  Tassajara Prep is a proposed charter high school with a planned opening in Fall 2012 to be administered by Livermore-based Tri-Valley Learning Corp. independent of the Dublin Unified School District and the Dublin School Board.  Tassajara Prep would partially be funded based on average daily attendance (ADA) that would otherwise go to Dublin High School.  Charter schools typically rely on significant levels of charitable donations and committed hours of parent volunteer support due to systemic funding gaps impacting charter schools.  Parents subscribing to will be kept informed of key steps in the charter petition process.  Below are summaries of key articles, and links to the full text.

A summary of key concerns regarding the Tassajara Prep charter petition are available here.

Tassajara Prep Location

Stock image used to promote Tassajara Prep (actual location likely to be a west-side District-owned facility if the charter petition is ultimately approved on appeal)

A key selling point of Tassajara Prep has been an east-side location.  It is more likely, however, that if approved Tassajara Prep will request access to a Dublin Unified School District facility using Prop. 39.  The only two options under Prop. 39 are likely to be co-locating at Dublin High School or re-purposing Nielsen Elementary (closed during consolidation).  Livermore-based Tri-Valley Learning Corp., the group behind Tassajara Prep, recently requested access to Portola Elementary for a Livermore charter high school using Prop. 39.  More details on the possible location of Tassajara Prep are detailed in an article available here.


  • Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory High School opened in Aug 2010 in a temporary location at Portola Elementary.  A permanent location was later announced that is in the process of being approved. Livermore Airport officials have raised concerns about the proposed permanent location (near Costco) due to the proximity of the airport to the proposed Livermore Charter Preparatory High School permanent location. Read more…
  • Separately, Livermore Charter Preparatory High School’s innaugural principal, Dr. Jeffrey Watkins, resigned without explanation a couple of months into the first school year and was replaced in January 2011 by Lauren Kelly.  Read more…
  • Finally, in December 2010 Tri-Valley Learning Corp. filed an appeal with the California State Board of Education regarding the Tassajara Prep charter petition.  Tri-Valley Learning Corp. had originally planned to have the Tassajara Prep. charter approved in Dec 2010 – that date is now pushed back at least 7 months due to the delay in filing the appeal (read more…). There have been no updates on suitable locations in Dublin if the charter is approved.

More recently Tassajara Prep has been backing away from its core promise – an east-side location: “Zukoski said that location is less important, and it’s up to the district to offer an appropriate facility by law.” (source: article in The Independent).  Later in the article it is noted: “It’s not clear to [Dublin Unified School District Superintendent] Hanke where the charter school would set up shop. All the district must do is offer comparable facilities. There are none, said Hanke. The only vacant school is the former Neilsen elementary school on the city’s west side. It does not meet space requirements for high school facilities, he said.”

Tassajara Prep Charter Petition Analysis published several articles regarding Livermore-based Tri-Valley Learning Corp.’s Tassajara Prep charter petition.  The charter petition was denied by the Dublin School Board in a unanimous vote and was appealed to the Alameda County Office of Education. The Alameda County Office of Education also denied the charter petition in a unanimous vote. Tri-Valley Learning Corp. has appealed the charter petition to the California State Board of Education. No date has been set for the appeal hearing.

  • Tassajara Prep – Reasons to Deny the Charter Petition: A summary of key concerns regarding how Tassajara Prep, if approved, would negatively impact public education in Dublin by making inefficient use of limited resources.
  • A Tale of Two Charter Initiatives: Tassajara Prep and Livermore Valley Charter School: A comparison of the charter school experience in Livermore, which was driven by passionate parent support, and the current experience in Dublin which has been marked by controversy and widespread opposition.  The article also highlights the high level of parent volunteer support required to make a charter school successful, in part due to the lack of district staff and infrastructure.
  • Tassajara Prep Charter Petition – Findings of Fact and District Recommendation: The Dublin Unified School District recommended the Tassajara Prep charter petition be denied based on the Findings of Fact.  The Board of Trustees denied the charter petition based on this recommendation.  Livermore-based Tri-Valley Learning Corp. has the option to appeal the Tassajara Prep decision to the Alameda County Office of Education and ultimately the State Board of Education.
  • Dublin Residents Speak Out at Charter School Public Hearing: As required by State regulations a public hearing was held for public input regarding the Tri-Valley Learning Corp. Tassajara Prep charter petition.  No parents spoke in favor of Tassajara Prep at the public hearing.  After the Tassajara Prep charter petition was denied by the Dublin Unified School District, the denial was appealed to the Alameda County Board of Education.  A second public hearing at the County level was held where, again, no parents supporting the charter petition spoke and significant opposition to the charter was present (more details available here: Tassajara Prep Public Hearing – Dublin Unites to Oppose Charter Petition Appeal)
  • Tassajara Prep’s Cookie Cutter Charter Petition:’s analysis of the Tassajara Prep charter petition and comparison with the Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory Charter School charter petition (Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory Charter School is scheduled to open for 2010-11 and will be administered by the Tri-Valley Learning Corp.).

Tassajara Prep Funding Gap

Among the issues identified in the Findings of Fact were questions about the fiscal plan included in the Tassajara Prep charter petition. published an article about the funding challenges that face charter schools in particular due to systemic funding gaps: Charter School Fiscal Reality: Dependent on Donations.  The Tassajara Prep fiscal plan did not account for charitable donations even though donations play a role in bridging the charter school funding gap, including Tri-Valley Learning Corp.’s existing Livermore Valley Charter School operation. Charter School Primer and the Dublin Proposal published a webinar (viewable by clicking on the YouTube image below) that summarizes:

  • How charter schools are created and administered
  • The role of charter schools in public education
  • The Dublin charter school proposal

(notes: Since this webinar was held Dublin Learning Corp. – referenced in the webinar – was replaced by Livermore-based Tri-Valley Learning Corp. as the organization driving Tassajara Prep; the proposed size of Tassajara Prep was changed after the webinar was recorded)

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