In May, Molalla River School District's board of directors discussed the potential to terminate Renaissance Public Academy's charter agreement after the district's investigation found the school violated student privacy. Instead, on a 4-3 vote, the district board decided to require RPA's board to take remedial actions by Sept. 30.
Those actions included that the RPA board members engage in several trainings, that they hire an outside expert to audit the failures identified in MRSD's summary report and that they provide formal quarterly reports in writing and to the district board at work sessions.
At the Sept. 26 district board work session, five RPA board members plus some staff members, attended to report on the required actions.
RPA's board treasurer, Vicki Helmig, spoke on behalf of the RPA board.
She reported that in July and August, RPA's board participated in trainings on the roles and responsibilities of board members and board ethics. In July, they also contracted with an expert at the Oregon School Boards Association to audit all practices and procedures at the school relating to the failures identified in MRSD's investigation report.
Helmig also reported that the board is in the process of using recommended OSBA language to update the policy related to conduct of board members and administration.
With that, the board fulfilled the actions required of it by Sept. 30.
But Helmig continued, describing two pages worth of school improvements that included establishing a spirit club, starting up a field day, increasing the number of field trips, increasing office security, updating the student handbook and course catalog, engaging with the community, establishing a TAG program, adding a breakfast program, facility updates and more.
District board member Neal Lucht was quick to respond.
"The comment I would like to make is: thank you for tremendous effort and hard work to tackle what you've done," Lucht said, "which is really what we hoped for…I'm very appreciative of that."
Board Chair Linda Eskridge too said she was impressed.
Both Lucht and Eskridge, along with board members Craig Loughridge and Mark Lucht, in May voted in favor of allowing RPA to make these changes instead of voting to terminate the charter agreement. Calvin Nunn, Ralph Gierke and Jennifer Satter made it clear they leaned toward a motion of intent to terminate.
After the report and Lucht and Eskridge's comments, there was no further discussion and no action taken.
But longtime community member Jim Meyers had spoken up during the public comment portion of the meeting, specifically as a tax payer he said, to ask what the attorney fees regarding RPA had amounted to.
Eskridge called the costs "substantial" and told Meyers to touch base with Superintendent Tony Mann for the specific number. The Pioneer has reached out to Mann for that figure as well and will report when it becomes available.
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