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With Board's Blessing, Kepler Neighborhood School Stays Open
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 6 years ago on
June 22, 2018

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The educational mission of Kepler Neighborhood School continues.
By a 4-1 vote Thursday, the Fresno County Board of Education granted the school’s appeal to continue operations for another three years.
Last month, the Fresno Unified school board denied Kepler’s request for its charter renewal, based mainly on poor test scores.
The school appealed the decision to the county board.
Kepler improved those scores in the last year, enough to convince the county board to follow the staff’s recommendation for renewal. A review committee also said the school improved greatly under new leadership.
Despite that, Michelle Murphy, regional director of the California Charter Schools Association, spoke against Kepler. Murphy said the school didn’t meet academic standards.
Trustees Ismael Herrera, Mike Robinson, Delbert Cederquist and Allen Clyde voted in favor. Nelson Esparza cast the lone no vote.
“Given the historical underperformance in recent years, I could not justify supporting the prospect of future progress based on just a few months of very recent data,” Esparza said in a statement. “I always keep the best interest of students at the forefront of my decisions, and now that the decision has been made by the Board to keep their doors open, they have my full support in ensuring those students succeed.”
Superintendent Jim Yovino told the board this means his office will work closely with the school to achieve student success.
“We are going to be involved in that school. It’s something that we take seriously,” Yovino said before the vote. Kepler’s executive director Margaret Ameel nodded along in the crowd, appreciative of the support.

Appreciation and Relief


“That is a little bit of vindication there.”Kepler Executive Director Margaret Ameel
Parents and students crowded the board’s chamber, awaiting the vote. The decision provided great relief for Ameel.
“Our work is recognized. One of the things that I really struggled with (the decision of) Fresno Unified, is that they kept saying we don’t have the capacity to do it. You can say a lot of things about us, but we absolutely demonstrated we have the capacity to do it,” Ameel said after the meeting. “That is a little bit of vindication there.”
Susan Martin’s children danced after the vote. “We are overjoyed and totally relieved,” she said hugging two of her sons who attend Kepler.

Other Charter Decisions

In other charter school-related board action:
— The board pulled the charter decision regarding the One & Only Academy at the school’s request. Staff recommended upholding Clovis Unified’ s denial. Harmit Juneja, lead petitioner, told the board his school will utilize the extra time to return with a more compatible application for the 2019-2020 school year.
— The Augustus Academy of Creative Arts and Technology presented their case for appeal for an establishment of its charter. Central Unified denied its charter request last month. The Fresno County board could return a decision next month, just in time for the fall semester. Former county supervisor Phil Larson was among the supporters for the school focusing on special education needs

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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