CREATED Sep. 10, 2013
PALM DESERT - Local students started classes this week at a new charter school in Palm Desert called Hope Academy. Some of the students' parents thought this K-12 school was accredited, but it's presently not. They were concerned about their children's education especially for the high schoolers who rely on an accredited school to transfer their credits to attend college.
"The accreditation process is an on-going process. It never really ends. We were fortunate to start it kind of earlier than normal new schools. You don't start with accreditation when you first open," explained the Executive Director of Hope Academy, Jared Mecham.
He explained that Hope Academy is accredited at its main campus in Yucca Valley, which opened August of 2011, by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
This year, three other charter schools from Hope Academy opened in Palm Desert, Bloomington and Beaumont. These three aren't yet accredited because it's too early in the academic year to do so. According to a representative from WASC, a school can be accredited as early as its first year when school is already in operation. WASC visits a new school and evaluates the school's programs to see if they meet certain criteria.
"We let them know about the sites that were opening when they did the visit last year. They were not open, so they weren't eligible to be visited, but the program that we run in this site is the same in Yucca and doesn't change much," shared Mecham.
WASC is scheduled to visit the Palm Desert campus this academic year as well as the other campuses to decide whether to accredit the school. Until that visit, Mecham said parents and students have nothing to worry about because he's confident the new schools will be accredited like the Yucca Valley site.
"The education is completely solid, like we said the accrediation is a wonderful thing to have and it really helps those kids 9 to 12 when they transfer," said Mecham.
Hope Academy in Yucca Valley is chartered by the Morongo Valley Unified School District in San Bernardino County. By law, it can open charters in adjacent counties, such as Riverside County, where the new campuses are located. There are more than 500 students K-12 currently enrolled at all four campuses, according to Mecham.