District weighs charter application from rehab school 

An addiction-rehabilitationfacility for juveniles is asking the Sequoia High School District to charter its high school, less than a year after its charter was denied by the San Mateo County Office of Education.

Daytop Village, a Redwood City inpatient and outpatient rehab program for teens and adults, offers a high school for grades nine through 12. Daytop’s high school, operated by the county Office of Education until 2003, was dropped after it lost many teachers who were trained to work with teens struggling with drugs and alcohol, according to Orville Roache, executive director of Daytop. It also ran afoul of the San Mateo County Probation Department in 2006.

The Sequoia High School District is already responsible for three other charter schools, including Summit Preparatory High School, Stanford Charter School’s 9th- to 12th-graders and High Tech High Bayshore, which is scheduled to close due to low enrollment. Sequoia’s board will discuss the Daytop request Wednesday and is required by law to approve or deny it within 30 days, according to district Superintendent Pat Gemma.

"I want to compare the [charter] proposal I was sent with the one the county was sent," Gemma said. "If they haven’t changed anything, why would we approve them when the county didn’t?"

Representatives from the San Mateo County Office of Education did not return calls for comment on the petition they denied last year.

Daytop clients often come from referrals by mental health officials or local courts. Because of this, some students’ tuition is paid for by the county — but some isn’t, according to Principal Michael Malone. If it became a public charter school, it would receive a share of California’s school funding.

Charter schools are operated as public schools, but are allowed more freedom to design unique academic programs. Under California law, Sequoia cannot deny the Daytop charter petition unless it fails to meet certain criteria, including that it is academically and financially viable.

Daytop Village’s school has room for up to 58 students, though it has 30 and has never had more than 43, according to Roache.

The county Probation Department pulled four juveniles they had placed in the program in 2006 after officials discovered there were spots on campus where students were not being watched by adults, according to Michael Stauffer, deputy chief probation officer for juvenile services.

"We decided to pull our kids out because we had some questions," Stauffer said. "I’m not saying the program was not safe, but our clients have other issues other than substance abuse that require more supervision."

Since then, Daytop has improved its oversight and teens on probation have been allowed at the school, Stauffer said.

The Sequoia High School District board meets Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the district offices, 480 James Ave., Redwood City.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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