Over 10 years ago, I taught for Horizon Charter School as well as a Horizon spin-off administered by “One-to-One Learning,” sponsored by Sierra-Plumas Joint Unified School District.
Unlike Horizon, however, “One-to-One,” a private company, defined its teachers as “Educational Facilitators” who were not employees but “contractors.” It avoided teacher unions, benefits, SDI deductions, etc., despite expecting teachers to act as employees.
We turned them into the IRS for tax and labor law violations, a federal case ensued against them, the State Controller’s Office listed seven findings against their charter school, and the district revoked their charter in July ’01.
Issues regarding private sector involvement in public education are alive and well in light of the ongoing controversy among Horizon Charter School, the private enterprise known as Group Access and Placer County (“Horizon CEO addresses complaints over Rocklin, Lincoln school closures,” Journal, Jan. 18; “Horizon Charter Schools safe in Auburn despite turmoil, admin says,” Journal, Jan. 27).
Unanswered questions linger: To what extent is Horizon and Western Placer Unified culpable? Is the apparent sweet deal giving Group Access $10,000/month for administering a rental agreement with Wells Fargo on behalf of a public school justified?
For those of you who think privatizing social programs such as Medicare, Social Security, or public education is a panacea for improving service and efficiency, these should serve as cautionary lessons.
Jim Beall, Sr., retired teacher, Loomis