Public exposes how MiraCosta's block grant consortium failed to hold state mandated public meeti
Oceanside, CA -- Recent inquiries into the lack of public meetings for the MiraCosta-led adult education consortium -- called the Coastal North County Adult Education Consortium -- has revealed that the consortium has not followed state law requirement for publicly noticed meetings since April 2016. After asking why the consortium had not held any public meetings to afford the public an opportunity to provide input into the planning and expenditure process, MiraCosta administrator Nikki Schaper told a resident that none were required and referred the resident to the community college's academic senate as a possible forum for input. The resident had asked to meet with the administrator to provide support for MiraCosta's program for adults with intellectual disabilities and to offer funding to help MiraCosta hire full-time faculty to make sure the measures included in the adult ed block grant consortium's 3-year plan were implemented. The resident's offer to help was declined.
After being informed by the administrator that no public meetings were required, the resident (an attorney by background) researched the issue only to learn that public meetings were not only required by California's Education Code as a condition of using public funds, but that this administrator had signed the Consortium's "governance rules" filed with the state (and posted on MiraCosta's website) stating that the public meetings were required quarterly. The Consortium is also subject to the Brown Act which similarly mandates publicly noticed meetings and decision making, and opportunities for public input.
Per California's Community College Chancellor's office, only costs made "per expenditure decisions ... adhering to [the block grant laws] on public notice and public comment" are considered "allowable." However, private "leadership team" meetings had been making private funding decisions instead of holding the required public meetings. Per MiraCosta's website, no public meetings have been held since April 2016. This same administrator had filed state documents stating that the consortium had followed all applicable laws to qualify for the funding. The AB 86 plan had very specific action items, funding allocations and action dates set forth in tables in the plan but those items were not followed with respect to the adults with disabilities.
MiraCosta is the sole fiscal agent for the consortium, the sole provider of the courses funded through the adult education block grant, and the sole recipient of the nearly $3.3 million allocated to it by the state to help seven student groups bridge gaps to the workforce through improved programming and pathways:
1. Programs in elementary and secondary basic skills, including programs leading to a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate;
2. Programs for immigrants eligible for educational services in citizenship, English as a second language, and workforce preparation;
3. Programs for adults, including, but not limited to, older adults, that are primarily related to entry or reentry into the workforce.
4. Programs for adults, including, but not limited to, older adults, that are primarily designed to develop knowledge and skills to assist elementary and secondary school children to succeed academically in school.
5. Programs for adults with disabilities.
6. Programs in career technical education that are short term in nature and have high employment potential.
7. Programs offering preapprenticeship training activities conducted in coordination with one or more apprenticeship programs approved by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards for the occupation and geographic area.
California Ed Code § 84913. Per the three-year block grant implementation plan called an "AB86 Plan" (researched for two years by the firm of BW Research Partnership before being approved and adopted by the Consortium), the Consortium prioritized four programs for the block grant funding and program development. Per the plan, the four programs identified were: 1. Elementary and Secondary Basic Skills, 2. English as a Second Language (ESL), 3. Adults with Intellectual Disabilities, and 4. Short-Term Career Technical Education (CTE). Based upon the data showing the percentages of need met for each community group, Adults with Disabilities was the the most underserved with only 1.2% of the approximately 12,000 potential students receiving support from the MiraCosta Community College..
Because Dr. Schaper failed to respond to inquiries about the Consortium, a complaint was submitted to the CA Community College Chancellor's office and brought before the MiraCosta Board. The State provided reassurances that it would investigate the complaint and help MiraCosta take corrective measures as needed. The public has yet to be given reassurances that corrective measures will be implemented to restore funding made without legal authority.