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Dozier-Libbey Medical High School students walk to their next class in Antioch, Calif., on Monday, March 26, 2012. A recent change in the school's grading system has raised concerns among teachers and parents. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)

ANTIOCH -- Teachers at Dozier Libbey Medical High School filed a petition this week with the Antioch Unified School District to convert the health care-themed public school to a charter.

The district has 30 days to hold a hearing in response to the request and another 30 days to make a decision.

Opened in 2008, Dozier Libbey was Antioch's first venture in creating a school with a curriculum focused on a particular career field, rigor and workforce experience.

However, the initial vision of the school's founding committee has been diluted, said Jefferson Weber, a history and chemistry teacher.

"Over the past two years, it's felt like the school district wants to homogenize the program," Weber said. "The changes have been seen as disruptive and counterproductive to the school's mission."

The petition had signatures from 23 of the school's 26 teachers, or 88 percent, Weber said. That exceeds the 50 percent plus one needed to submit a petition. None of the teachers is opposed to a charter conversion, he said.

The charter would continue to operate as a public school but would be recognized as an independent entity and receive funding directly from the state. It would be run by a board of directors, led by an executive director, develop its own budget, hire teachers and decide whether to contract out services.

Antioch Unified would lose funds it receives for daily student attendance, but it would no longer carry the costs of operating the school.

If the Antioch board denies the petition, it can be appealed to the county board of education.

There are three charter schools in the Antioch district.

One example of the "philosophical differences" Dozier Libbey's teachers cited on the petition is Antioch Unified eliminating the school's "No D Policy" in 2011. The district decided the grading policy was not consistent with its other two high schools and removed it, which forced the retroactive changing of grades.

In the petition, teachers also cited a district decision allowing students to opt out of some courses and a lack of administrative support.

"We desire to become a charter high school in order to gain autonomy and go back to the original vision of the school's founding," the petition said.

Dozier Libbey teachers have talked informally about forming a charter over the past year, and some in the community also inquired whether the school would go that route, Weber said.

Discussions with Clayton Valley Charter High School staff members, who were on campus last week, aided the process. That school became a charter in 2012.

Dozier Libbey teachers rushed to put together the petition over the weekend and file Monday afternoon so that a charter could start by next school year.

Antioch Unified Superintendent Donald Gill said he had not had time to examine the petition, but the district will look at it over the next month.

The charter proposal will have to show a viable education plan that meets the needs of all students and demonstrates fiscal solvency, he said.

Some parents on the executive board of the school's Parent Teachers Association said Tuesday afternoon they had not heard about the petition.

PTA President Edgar Osorio said it "took him by surprise" when he heard about it Monday, but he supports the school's teachers.

"One of our regrets is we didn't get to talk to the community," Weber said.

One question some parents immediately raised surrounds athletics. Currently, student-athletes at Dozier Libbey are allowed to compete on athletic teams at Antioch and Deer Valley high schools. An information sheet teachers started distributing Tuesday said: "We fully expect to continue our support of student-athletes through agreements with AUSD or other local districts."

They plan to hold a community meeting for parents to ask questions and give their opinions.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.