Carpenter Community Charter Principal Joe Martinez sent out a letter Thursday to ask that all new students—including siblings of students now going to the school, and people who live in the area—fill out an online information sheet if they want to attend the school.
The high-achieving public charter-affiliate is facing overcrowding, and the principal’s letter mentions the spike in the enrollment and said he believes it is due to fraud.
“The reasons we are developing new admissions policies is due to a recent spike in our enrollment,” Martinez said in the letter. “We have analyzed reasons for the increase, we have discovered that there may be a significant amount of fraudulently enrolled students at our school. There is a very strong possibility that many parents/guardians used a false or inaccurate address (not within our school boundaries) to enroll their sudents(s) at Carpenter. We believe our overcrowded condition is a direct result of this fraud.”
The school population jumped by 10 percent in a year to 1,009 students and Martinez said that a few hundred students may not belong in the school district.
Martinez said the public school will try to accommodate all people living in the Studio City area, and siblings of presently-enrolled students who live in the area. Teachers were concerned that they also be allowed to enroll their children in the school.
Since the initial article about the admissions problems, more than a dozen families that bought houses in the 91604 ZIP code area have contacted Studio City Patch about concerns that they will not be able to get their children into the Kindergarten through fifth grade classes at Carpenter, or nearby Colfax Charter which has similar problems. Some families bought into the $1 million-plus homes in the Studio City hills specifically to be part of the public school that has the highest test scores in the area.
Gretchen Goldsmith moved into the area fully expecting that her twins would go into the local Kindergarten next fall.
“I was told by the school that they now have to cut the number of Kindergarten classes from nine to six, and that NOT ALL residents will get in this fall!” she said. “I can't get a straight answer from anyone, I feel totally misled. I must say, I'm stunned by this whole thing.”
Los Angeles School Board member Tamar Galatzan’s office is aware of the issue, and the Los Angeles Unified School District must make some decisions about the procedure, too. Although the school became a charter affiliate, it still has to follow LAUSD procedures and contract agreements.
However, the class sizes are burgeoning, which totally defeats the whole reason the parents lobbied for the charter designation in the first place.
“I did not apply to any of the area private schools because of Martinez' assurances that boundaries weren't being re-drawn, and that he made no mention of a residents drawing,” Goldsmith said. “The impact of resident families potentially being turned away because so many other people lied and cheated is tremendous."
Parents or guardians of any new student coming to the school should fill out the form at carpentercharter.org.
Martinez also encourages any concerned parents or community member, whether they have a student in the school or not, to come attend an Enrollment Committee meeting at the school on Friday at 2:40 p.m. just after school and the regular Governance Council meeting on Feb. 21 at 2:45 p.m.
The online information see (which does not guarantee enrollment) can be found here: carpentercharter.org/enrollment-information
(See a copy of Martinez’s letter attached in the PDF in the gallery above.)