Helix High Charter Issue Comes to a Head at Special Thursday Meeting

HELIX HIGH SCHOOL – The conflict between Helix High School and the Grossmont Union High School District governing board is coming to a head.

The board announced it will hold a hearing Thursday, April 8, at the East County Regional Education Center in El Cajon.

The special meeting announcement was simple and direct. The board will hear from the public before retiring to executive session. It will return to public session and conduct a public hearing on the plan to revoke the charter that allows Helix High School to operate semi-autonomously within the district.

If the board votes to revoke the charter, Helix can appeal to county and state education authorities.

The meeting begins at 4 p.m. at the center 924 East Main Street in El Cajon. The meeting brings to a perhaps final confrontation in a battle that has been brewing for months.

The Grossmont district’s board has questioned whether a series of scandals at Helix High involving teachers and administrators raises questions about the safety and security of the Helix High. In a letter to the school community several weeks ago, district Superintendent Robert J. Collins outlined the concerns.

“As a charter authorizer, the GUHSD Board has an oversight responsibility for the safety and well-being of students at all of the charter schools it authorizes,’’ Collins letter says. Collins then went on to outline what he described as slow or incomplete response by the Helix administration to requests for information on a number of incidents at the school.

Helix High was hit by a string of incidents involving sexual misconduct between teachers, staff and students. Four teachers were convicted of sex crimes involving students between December 2006 and September 2008. Most recently, a Helix administrator, Collins’ letter outlines, was investigated and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor in an incident in which the administrator facilitated “a 16 year old girl traveling alone on a bus from San Diego to Oregon without guardian or parental permission.’’

Helix officials have described the incident as being investigated as a possible “mishandling’’ of a “runaway’’ incident and the administrator was put on leave while the investigation continues. Helix supporters have been critical of the GUHSD Board, saying its threat to revoke Helix’ charter is motivated by its desire to gain control of the school’s finances.

The board has insisted its focus is on student safety only.

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Tags: Grossmont Union High School District, Helix High School

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