Ravenswood school district in hot water

The Associated Press
Monday June 03, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO – The Ravenswood school district is under fire from the state for its failure to improve its special education and the unethical behavior of some of its administrators. 

The California Department of Education wants to take over Ravenswood school district because, it says, its administrators have failed to serve disabled children. 

The state filed a takeover plan Friday that says it would appoint an administrator to replace the superintendent and the locally elected school board, the San Jose Mercury News reported. 

The state-appointed administrator would serve for two years and under his or her tenure progress reports would be submitted to the every three months. 

The Ravenswood school district, which serves East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park, has been sued for its poor record in serving children with disabilities and last year a judge found it in contempt of a federal court order. 

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson gave its administrators a final chance to prove their competence before ordering a takeover. He also ordered the district to pay a $10,000 fine and to reimburse lawyers representing disabled students. 

Henderson will hold an evidentiary hearing on June 18 to determine the school district’s progress and to decide whether a state takeover should take place 

But report cards by a court-appointed monitor reveal Ravenswood has not made much improvement and now, one of its principals is under scrutiny for allegedly submitting bogus petitions to a federal court. 

In December, the district suspended Costano School Principal Marthelia Hargrove for her role in submitting signatures collected for other matters and turning them in under a new heading related to the special education case. 

Earlier this week, Superintendent Charlie Mae Knight submitted a sworn statement to the court saying the school board is “pursuing the dismissal” of Hargrove. 

Hargrove has denied any involvement with the fraudulent petitions.