Chapman-supported charter school approved by Orange County Department of Education

A charter school supported by Chapman, which could enroll more than 700 students at an Orange location, was approved 5-0 Wednesday morning, said Tim Surridge, an Orange Unified School District Board of Trustees member.

The K-8 charter school, called Tomorrow’s Learning Collaborative, has caused some controversy in the local community due to Chapman’s involvement and concerns about how its funding will affect the local school district.

The charter school, designed to educate both students with disabilities and without in the same classrooms, was denied by the Orange Unified School District in January before being brought forward for an appeal to the Orange County Department of Education Wednesday.

“While today was disappointing and I remain somewhat troubled regarding Chapman’s sponsorship, we live in a democracy, and I believe one needs to respect when elected officials make decisions,” Surridge wrote in an email to The Panther March 14.

Some residents expressed concern to council members at a city council meeting March 13, including Adam Duberstein, the founder of Respect Orange, a local group that advocates for community issues. Duberstein has been one of the most vocal opponents of the charter school.

“Respect Orange is not against charter schools, but against the proposed charter school that is partnering with Chapman,” Duberstein said at the council meeting. “A proposed 772 students means 772 car trips in the morning, and again in the afternoon. Our community is not designed for this.”

Don Cardinal, an Attallah College of Educational Studies professor in the Thompson Policy Institute, which is a disability research center, told The Panther March 12 that he can’t think of anything about the school that an Orange resident would be upset about. Students would simply attend the charter school instead of another school in the district, he said.

“If something like this happened in Orange County and Chapman wasn’t part of it, I would be embarrassed,” he said.

Orange resident Scott Resnick said at the council meeting that he lives only a few blocks from one of the proposed locations.

“This area has seen an uptake in petty crime, including theft and graffiti,” Resnick said when he addressed the council. “A new school with 150 students and a proposed expansion to 772 students doesn’t fix any existing problems, it only exacerbates them.”

This is a developing story. Follow The Panther as we continue reporting.