Richmond families, students and staff fight attempt at wrongful school closure

A Richmond public high school is facing closure despite impressive academic results over a five year existence 

Press release

Richmond, CA – March 8, 2020 – After the West Contra Costa Unified School District failed to renew the charter petition for John Henry High School, the second highest performing school in Richmond which serves over 300 Latino and African American students, the school is facing a possible non-renewal of their charter as they appeal to the Contra Costa Office of Education on Wednesday, March 11 at 6pm.

John Henry High School opened in 2015 and has continually outperformed Richmond public schools within the West Contra Costa Unified School District in all areas including math, English and science. In addition, John Henry High School graduates 94% of its students and over 90% of JHHS graduating seniors are admitted to 4 year universities.

“Black and Brown families and students from Richmond have suffered through dangerous, violent and low performing schools for generations,” states John Henry High School Principal Sylvia Flores. “I live in Richmond and see this for what it is – covert and overt institutionalized racism and discrimination. The level of animosity, untruths, and hate is despicable. I cannot for any reason, understand how closing a high performing school in Richmond will be beneficial to students and families.”

According to the district staff report, a high staff turnover rate, problems with the school’s special education program and the performance outcomes of the school’s English Learner population were some of the reasons why the West Contra Costa Unified School District did not renew the school’s charter, thus sending the school to the county office of education for an appeal. 

As the school community was preparing to contest these findings at the county appellate hearing, an anonymous email was sent to county staff stating that there has been fraud, and misuse of grant funds at the John Henry High School campus, according to the Contra Costa County Office of Education staff statement. 

The school is strongly condemning these allegations and calling for a deeper investigation since there have been no audit findings since the school opened in 2015. Dr. Nick Vaca, Chief Executive Officer for the AMPS system states, “This school has faced various affronts over the years stemming from what I believe to be personal attacks from WCCUSD staff against members of the AMPS Team. The fact is that this school offers a ticket to better outcomes for kids from the tough Richmond landscape, and a governing entity should not take a last minute, hail mary attempt from an anonymous, unsubstantiated email as the sole source for such a drastic decision. We are confident that our school is providing a sound and safe environment for students to thrive. As governance members representing the county, they need to and we welcome a deeper investigation into these unfounded allegations. The people and community deserve answers.”

The meeting to determine the fate of the John Henry High School will be held on Wednesday March 11 at 6 p.m. at the CCCOE Board Room, 77 Santa Barbara Rd. Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. 

About Amethod Public Schools

Amethod Public Schools is a nonprofit charter management organization that partners with communities, school districts, and funders to offer a great public school education to low income families. The organization’s programs blend rigorous academics with an extensive focus on character development to prepare middle grade students for success in high school, and high school students for the demands of college, the workforce, and civic life. Founded in Oakland in 1994, Amethod Public Schools has grown into a network of campuses in low-income communities across the East San Francisco Bay Area.  For more information, visit

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One thought on “Richmond families, students and staff fight attempt at wrongful school closure

  1. The CCCBOE staff received over 25 complaints in writing. For a CMO to claim one email is the cause of passing is a little on the silly side. Also furthermore audit findings are not much to rely on. Audit findings had viewed Enron’s audits as clean until a forensic audit was conducted. Audits are what is presented to the auditor. An auditor does not really go poking around. If AMPS wanted to prove they had 100% issue free audits they would have FCMAT give a clean audit. Furthermore, the CDE staff findings for their SBE appeal has shown there has been some material inaccuracies in their budgets, so much so it is noted as they are demonstrably unlikely to implement the program. I am not opposed to the JHHS or charters, I just think the rhetoric on this post is a little one sided.

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