May 19, 2010 5:12 PM by Greg Boyce

Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta get ultimatum

Pueblo City Schools has issued an ultimatum to two troubled charter schools, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.  The message: Start making quick and decisive changes.

Once lauded as a model of efficiency among charter schools, the two facilities on Pueblo's west side have been troubled by problems for more than a year.  In a terse, three page letter, Pueblo City Schools Board President Stephanie Garcia outlined changes that must be made.

The letter states the two schools are in violation of their contract with Pueblo City Schools and that the schools have been placed on probationary status.  The letter demands that Chief Financial Officer Jason Guerrero within 48 hours, without further use of taxpayer money.

It orders that any pending litigation against the board not be settled using taxpayer money.  That alludes to a lawsuit filed by Lawrence Hernandez, the founder of the school who was fired last year after refusing to take a pay cut.  A recent audit showed Hernandez was making more than $300,000 a year as CEO of the Cesar Chavez network of schools.

Other problems include:

  • Failure to provide evidence of non-profit status
  • Nepotism in hiring
  • Failure to maintain financial reserves
  • Improper record keeping on cell phone and credit card accounts
  • Poor CSAP performance
  • Accelerating dropout rates among students

Read complete letter

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