OAKLAND -- More than a thousand American Indian Model Schools pupils will be able to start summer school later this month after a judge Thursday prevented the embattled charter school from being shut down by issuing a temporary restraining order against the district.
The decision to grant the restraining order by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo means AIMS will begin the summer session June 20 while the school fights the March 20 decision by OUSD to revoke its charter.
"We are ecstatic," AIMS attorney James Kachmar said after the hearing.
The move came just weeks before the Alameda County Board of Education is scheduled June 25 to decide whether to uphold OUSD's decision.
If the county board decided to reinstate the charter, funding would start up again.
"But that would be too late," Kachmar told Grillo during the hearing.
Without a restraining order, Kachmar said, "the schools would be shut down."
Grillo said his decision made on behalf of more than 1,110 pupils enrolled in the three AIM schools in no way expresses a view about allegations of "quite serious" financial mismanagement against AIMS leader Ben Chavis.
State auditors found Chavis improperly channeled $3.8 million to himself and his wife through construction contracts and lease agreements.
Charges filed with the Alameda County district attorney are still being reviewed. AIMS filed the lawsuit against OUSD in May.
The new director, Nabiha Shakir, said AIMS remedied all the issues the OUSD board required two years ago.
"We did everything they asked us to do," she said after the hearing Thursday, visibly relieved. The restraining order, even though it does not solve the woes still facing AIMS, "makes a statement," she said.
OUSD Attorney John Yeh said the matter was actually out of the hands of the district and rests with the county, or ultimately with the California Board of Education if the county upholds the revocation.
"There's nothing the district can do to change that," he said.