Hmong Charter School

Members in the Hmong Community are meeting with the Fresno School Board right now to propose a new Charter School aimed at educating their children.

One parent we spoke with says when it comes to learning Hmong values in the classroom, his children aren't making the grade.

Reading, writing and arithmetic are fundamental lessons in elementary school.

But John Thao says his children are missing another important component to those basics lessons in Hmong heritage.

Thao says his children would learn more about their culture at a Hmong Charter School.

John Thao: "A charter school would focus on foreign language such as Hmong language and also our culture and also our background."

Thao may get his wish.

Dr. Wangyee Vang along with 70 other members in the Hmong Community have petitioned the Fresno Unified School Board to create the first ever Hmong Academy of Fresno.

Dr. Wangyee Vang, Lead Charter Developer: "We want them to know who they are, where they come from, and their background."

The Southeast Fresno Charter School would start with grades kindergarten through third, and then eventually add fourth, fifth, and sixth.

Dr. Vang says if the School Board approves this charter he'll set up portable classrooms on this three acre site. Already 100 students have committed to attending classes here.

They've got a three year projection here starting with 09, 10 through 2011, 2012.

FUSD Board Member President Carol Mills says the petition appears to be in order but wonders if current Fresno Unified Schools can't accommodate the needs of Hmong students.

Carol Mills: "We have a strong Hmong Community in Fresno Unified, a strong Southeast Asian Community. And if we're not meeting their needs I think this is something the School Board should look at."

Fresno Unified does offer some after-school classes in language, culture and customs.

Thao says those classes don't teach enough that's why he wants the school board to consider this new option.

Thao: "It's gonna create a big change for the community."

If the school is approved, any child could attend.

State law requires Charter Schools to accept students from all backgrounds.

The school board also faces a potential financial loss. If a student leaves a Fresno Unified School the money to educate that child follows them to the Charter School.

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