Casa Ramona Academy

The fate of Casa Ramona Academy, a Westside charter school facing accusations of multiple instructional problems, may be decided by February, Danny Tillman, president of the school district board, said Wednesday.

The San Bernardino City Unified School District board has initiated a process that could lead to Casa Ramona losing its charter if campus leaders are unable to demonstrate students there are receiving a quality education…

Casa Ramona's problems, according to the school district, include the campus offering only one course with the University of California's approval as a college preparatory class, a lack of English language instruction and various problems with the campus' physical condition.

Casa Ramona opened in 2007 as a K-12 campus and now has roughly 460 students. The charter school is ultimately subject to the school district's authority but has its own governing board to handle on-campus policy…

The school board initiated the "cure and correct" process Tuesday at the conclusion of an emotional, specially scheduled hearing that attracted more than 200 Casa Ramona parents and students to the district's headquarters…

About 150 students walked out of class in September to protest conditions, and district board member Teresa Parra-Craig and vocal parent Maria Naranjo have called for the removal of Casa Ramona's executive director, Esther Estrada, a former councilwoman. ..
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AUDIT OF SAN BERNARDINO CHARTER SCHOOL SOUGHT, September 21, 2010, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) 

Three San Bernardino school board members called Tuesday night for an audit of Casa Ramona Academy, a charter school on the city's Westside, after about 200 students and parents alleged health, safety and civil rights violations…


Anonymous said...

I would rather remain anonymous, but I was an acting chairperson of the CRA faculty.

This school is called Cancer Ramona Academy by some, among other things, and deserves worse. The students are and have always been exemplary, as have been the teachers, but the upper administration have been nothing but befuddling and childish.

They've no idea what to do with themselves, and it would surprise me if they were able to complete some of the tasks expected of their students, such as the proper drafting of an argumentative essay, say, especially if such an essay were expected to be drafted in the same collegiate English used in the forms these officials must read and answer in order to complete certain necessities for qualification as a bona fide high school in the State of California.

It would be indulgent for me to say more. I do not understand the motives of some people, though, and particularly where pride seems concerned.

I wanted to teach. Now I want to tell everyone why it is so important to read as an adult at home and home-school one's children.

For the record, and not that the reader can necessarily tell, but I am an excellent teacher.

I don't know about Charter schools, but for the love of all, don't send anyone you know to CRA in San Bernardino.

Anonymous said...

I think that power and prestige are the motivation behind the actions of some in schools. Parents need to be more aware of what is going on in their school, charter, private, or public. It is their school and they must empower themselves by keeping informed.

Anonymous said...

Casa Ramona Academy history, an inside view.
To parents and prospective parents of Casa Ramona Academy High School students.

If the Board of Directors is run by an ex-politician and select followers, the Executive Director and the Director of Instruction have no educational background, and the new High School/Middle School Principal refuses to seek or accept the input of the professional educators, what kind of education will the students receive? This is a question we encourage all high school parents to ask before allowing their student to attend Casa Ramona Academy this coming year.

This letter was sent to some of the SBUCSD board members on May 23, 2011.

When CRA (Casa Ramona Academy) began, the Executive Director was busy with City Council. The HS/MS/ES (High School, Middle School, and Elementary School) Principal sought cooperation and advice from ALL stakeholders and effectively created a PLC (Professional Learning Community). A new school building was promised. There was a feeling that this was a community effort and that we were all one family working together.

Though the school got off to a rough start, through the efforts and cooperation of all, by the end of the first year many of the initial problems had been worked out and the school began its second year.
The HS/MS/ES Principal, Director of Instruction, Teachers, Parents and Students worked together to earn a five year WASC approval. This cooperation was the deciding factor according to the members of the WASC Committee.
Once the WASC approval was granted the Director of Instruction was supposed to get classes aligned with the UC/CSU (University of California and California State University) Systems. The process was begun, but was dropped when the Director of Instruction became distracted by other things and all attempts to align the classes were set aside.

CST scores from last year showed considerable improvement.
Over the summer the Board of Directors and the Executive Director tried to fire the Principal, citing his “lack of experience”, but Parents, Students, and Teachers strenuously objected (the perception by many was that the Principal had begun to stand up for the students in spite of the escalating Executive Director’s interference. This seemed to be confirmed in 2011 when the Board of Directors hired another Principal that, again, had no experience).

Anonymous said...


The Executive Director lost the election for City Council and took total active control of the school. The Executive Director, on more then one occasion, publicly threatened the HS/MS students that they would be removed from the school if they did not have at least a 2.0 G.P.A. The Executive Director oversaw every small detail and disrupted the running of the school. The Board of Directors followed the Executive Director’s lead on virtually all things, and did nothing to control the micro managing. The Executive Director successfully resisted all teacher input and the formation of a teachers union.

CST scores from last year showed some improvement but not as much as the previous year. This was predicted by the teachers despite the edict that all scores must improve a specific amount.

All HS/MS teachers were given an “I” (improvement needed) on their evaluations, at the direction of the Executive Director. This was because “the teachers had not completed the SLPs” (Student Learning Plans). Yet no SLP form was ever agreed upon and no time was allotted (though the Elementary teachers were given substitutes).

In May the Director of Instruction botched the CST testing. School scores for this year did not count and the school was placed on PI (Program Improvement) for a minimum of two years (if scores do not improve then additional years will be required). The District in the “Cure and Correct” wanted to know “whether the employee in question remains employed.” The Administration responded, “The employee is a valued member of the team and remains at the school.”

Anonymous said...


When school began the teachers were expected to teach eight classes (two more than other schools) and an eight-hour day, with no time for class preparation. They further added one minimum day every other Wednesday (at the cost of 5% of student instruction time) in order to allow the faculty time to collaborate. Yet the Administration allowed the HS/MS faculty to meet with their own agenda only once in the entire year.

The Board of Directors brought in a new Principal for the HS/MS (at considerable expense, though there was not sufficient growth to warrant the position as evidenced by the fact that when the Elementary Principal departed, the Board of Directors did not hire a new Elementary Principal). The former HS/MS/ES Principal was given the assignment of being Principal of the Elementary side of the school and told to break ties with the HS/MS side. In September the HS/MS students walked out in protest and San Bernardino City Unified School District began an investigation.

In September the Director of Instruction hurriedly attempted to flood the UC/CSU system with class “course descriptions” created on the spur of the moment and without teacher input. This was done so that it could be said that the school was “in process” of submission, yet it was done with the assumption that the system would allow the faculty to “correct” the poorly thought out and totally fallacious submission. The District in the “Cure and Correct” wanted to know “whether the employee in question remains employed.” The Administration responded, “The employee is a valued member of the team and remains at the school.”

Anonymous said...

In September the HS/MS faculty concluded that there was a huge and damaging imbalance between the two eighth grade classes (8A and 8B) amounting to tracking, and that the best thing was to shuffle the students to provide better balance and to form teams that could assist in learning. Though the new Principal stated that it was the right thing to do, the two classes were eventually left imbalanced. In October the teacher that had expressed concern was issued a ‘Letter of Reprimand’ for informing the parents of the issue.

The “Cure and Correct” from the District did not question the quality or commitment of the faculty, but did express considerable concern about the administration. This document was answered with no HS/MS faculty input.

The District wrote in the “Cure and Correct” that there is “no clear system for identifying students who are struggling.” The Administration responded that they “conducted a training entitled ‘Student Success Team’, and all certificated staff participated.” Yet no action has occurred since that time to implement the said SST.

The District in the “Cure and Correct” stated that there “seems to be no implemented program for intervention for struggling students.” For two years the HS/MS teachers have been calling for an after school program to help any students that fell behind in any subject. The new Principal promised, in front of the Board of Directors, to consult the HS/MS teachers about any proposed after school program. Instead the HS/MS Principal and the Director of Instruction set up a program, established the curriculum, and hired the instructors without ever speaking to the HS/MS faculty. And even now there is no remedial after school help for the High School students.

The new Math teacher left the classroom for three weeks in order that the time could be spent on a Public Relations campaign against the District’s investigation of CRA, and was replaced by a general substitute. This was especially disconcerting in that the student’s math education had already been disrupted by the departure of the previous math teacher.

Anonymous said...

The Board of Directors pretended to encourage a PLC (Professional Learning Community) but immediately dropped all pretenses when the school survived the “Cure and Correct”. To this day the Administration refuses to ask the advice or suggestions of the HS/MS faculty and does ALL things by decree under threat of termination.

In March, pink slips were sent only to the HS/MS teachers with two reasons stated for the action: financial insecurity and charter renewal issues. Why would “financial insecurity” not affect the Elementary? What issues are involved with the Charter that would only affect the HS/MS? Some have concluded that the Board of Directors is expecting to eliminate the High School portion of Casa Ramona Academy.

It is required that any senior that might be in danger of failing a class must be informed of that fact at the end of the third quarter. Yet the Principal did not inform them (she relies solely on administrators for her information and has no positive rapport with the high school faculty). Therefore the seniors that failed a regular class was not informed of the danger and they were never given any remedial assistance. At least one senior did, in fact, fail.

In April the Executive Director continued to underpay and overwork the custodial staff as the Executive Director has been doing since the second year of the schools existence. This year, one Hispanic worker was required to work eight hours on a Saturday but paid for only two and was told that the reason was a lack of money. A few days later hundreds of dollars of professional metal signs were put up around the school (if a person once marched with Cesar Chavez, the idea of abusing Hispanic workers seems a betrayal).

In May, as the school prepared for the CST testing, the faculty was required to watch a training video. Yet when the coordinator (the Director of Instruction) played the video she spoke of other concerns such that no one could pay appropriate attention to the video, even though there were teachers present that had not watched the video in the past.

In April the seniors that were in need of remedial credits were assigned to work with computer credit recovery programs initiated, and theoretically administered, by the Director of Instruction and the HS/MS Principal. But the Administration bungled the programs and half of the seniors were informed in late May, only weeks from the end of the school year, that their work will not count and that they will “not have enough credits” to graduate on time.

On June 9, as expected, the majority of high school teachers were informed that their services would not be needed next year.

Anonymous said...

In what way does this school differ from any other school? The Administration claims that the student is “safer” than at the large High Schools, though the many students that have transferred out have not reported such problems. The Administration claims that they maintain small class sizes, but class sizes have dropped because parents have been withdrawing their students. The Administration claims that CRA is a technology school and does supply some of the teachers with technology such as “Smart boards”, but does not begin to supply enough technology for student use. Though once this school was a true neighborhood school and a legitimately unique school experience for the students, unfortunately now there is no longer anything unique about Casa Ramona Academy High School.

In summary, the Administration clique of Executive Director, Director of Instruction, HS/MS Principal and the new Math Teacher seem to have made a conscious effort to disregard the HS/MS teaching professionals at Casa Ramona Academy at the expense of student learning. Do you want your high school student to come to Casa Ramona Academy with this type of incompetent leadership?


John Wesling, Sean McCauley, Robert Flores, and Olga Aran.

(Other HS/MS teachers concur, but are concerned that the administration might try to delay or stop the payment of their salary over summer, which has already been earned, and would prefer that their names not be used without specific permission.)