An elementary school and a new charter school with which it are not coexisting peacefully, parents told Superintendent Joseph Farley at a forum Wednesday night.
A handful of parents from in Mission Viejo traveled to in Las Flores to attend the first of three superintendent forums scheduled this year. The parents came to tell Farley that sharing a campus with Oxford Preparatory Academy has placed an undue burden on the students and the neighborhood.
"The atmosphere and climate of the school is not good," said parent Patrick Mallon, who has twin third-graders at Barcelona.
Mallon later told Patch that neighbors routinely call Orange County Sheriff’s deputies to the area to deal with Oxford parents who roll through stop signs and park in their homes' driveways.
Contacted for reaction, Sue Roche, executive director for Oxford, acknowledged there have been some logistical challenges in starting a brand new school on a shared campus, but most of them have already been worked out, and she is confident the rest will be resolved shortly.
Barcelona mom Debbie Lackie told Farley Wednesday that her daughter has to take music lessons in the teachers lounge because Oxford has use of the multipurpose room during that time.
"My children should not be going to the staff lounge to take music," she said. "That’s upsetting."
Farley said he is disheartened by the situation, but because charter schools operate mostly independently, he has no control over the situation.
"I don’t like it either, but I have to follow the law," he said.
Under Proposition 39, CUSD must provide facilities free of charge to charter schools who serve Capo students, Farley said. Sharing the Barcelona Hills campus was the only solution the district could devise.
“It has not been a—how should we say it—an easy marriage or arrangement,” he told parents. District officials have fielded a number of complaints about Oxford. At one point, Capo officials believed Oxford was in violation of its charter agreement. He would not detail the complaints and district spokesman Marcus Walton declined to discuss them after the forum.
Roche said that in no way is Oxford out of compliance with its charter. She vowed to work cooperatively with CUSD.
"I feel we've worked very proactively, as the district has," she said. For example, Oxford has changed its recess time and Barcelona moved its lunch period back by five minutes.
"You can cut it with a knife, the tension between the two groups," Farley said. "It makes me a little bit angry that we have to deal with this kind of conflict between the two sites," he said.
Mallon questioned whether CUSD even wants Barcelona to continue to operate, given what appears to be plans for growth at Oxford. And Barcelona mom Debbie Lackey said even if students who wanted to return, there’s no room for them.
Farley said he does not plan to shut Barcelona Hills down in the 2012-13 year. "At this point, I want to keep Barcelona right where it is," he said.
But Julie Hatchel, assistant superintendent of education services, said parents are correct that there is no room for Barcelona to grow. The school now only uses eight classrooms on its own campus. If students wanted to return to Barcelona, the district may have to redraw attendance boundary lines and send them to a new home school.
It’s unlikely Oxford would move, Farley said. "We don’t have an available site to have a charter take over an entire site," he said.
Roche said that Oxford will make a request that the district supply facilities for 628 students—100 of whom would take independent study—for the 2012-13 year, as its charter allows. This year, Oxford officials agreed to enroll about 100 fewer students than they could have.
She added that she hoped the parents who spoke at the superintendent's forum are in the minority, and that her school's goal is for a positive educational experience for all the students at the Barcelona Hills campus.
Barcelona dad Jim Reynen said he and several others tried to get a bigger showing at the superintendent’s forum. "I think they feel it’s no use. I don’t feel that way."
Farley pow-wowed with Barcelona parents after the forum and vowed to set up a private meeting with them in a couple of weeks.
The next superintendent's forum is scheduled for Jan. 24 at .