Guam Academy Charter School pressed on accreditation, audit - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Guam Academy Charter School pressed on accreditation, audit

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Guahan Academy Charter School faced senators last night in an oversight hearing. The controversial charter school had some explaining to do before Education chair Vice Speaker Telena Nelson. 

GACS lost its accreditation candidacy and according to the charter school law, it should have had its charter revoked since it did not gain accreditation within five years.

While Nelson repeatedly raised concerns about the effects of graduating from an unaccredited school for students, Guahan Academy officials appeared to downplay the school's middle and high school levels not being accredited. Guahan administrator Dr. Judi Won Pat said the organization shares is unaccredited status with at least one really good college.


"One of the most prestigious universities in the United States is Harvard University - and it's not accredited," she said.

The vice speaker, however, was unimpressed.

"We still owe an answer to the people of Guam why we are not accredited," Nelson responded. "What are the steps we are going to take to get accredited and how does that impact our children's future from graduating from a non-accredited school. And Harvard is an accredited school."

Yes, Harvard is accredited. We Googled it.

Also touched on in the oversight hearing, a scathing audit released from the Office of Public Accountability just days before the hearing. The audit raised "substantial doubts" about the school's ability to continue operating with over $3 million in debt. A slew of deficiencies also noted including lack of trained staff, accounting policies and procedures. GACS' response to the audit?

"Basically, this report is already biased to begin with," GACS Auditor Al Erguiza said. "In other words, we call this fishing for facts for errors. This is what it is."

Also at the hearing, Janessa Corpuz, parent representative, shared how her special-needs daughter individual education plan was lost in a filing cabinet at GACS for months. In emotional testimony, Corpuz said her children experience high teacher turnover and a lack of qualified special needs consulting resource teachers.

"Child special ed right? Checkmark that but nobody cared to read and make sure that every student these are special students are students who need accommodations, modifications who fall under IEP, that they meet their needs," she said.

While Nelson again raised the issue of GACS grads not being able to secure federal student loans, Won Pat responded by saying she received a message from a finance person who said that wasn't the case.



"You have my word," Won Pot responded. "I'm putting my credentials on the line here."

"I just would like to see something concrete maybe something from the director of FAFSA saying that students can still receive federal aid," Nelson replied.

The cost of GACS non-accredited secondary program? $1.9 million in general funds - which would come out of the Fiscal Year 2020 Guam Department of Education budget that has already been significantly cut in the governor's budget bill.

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