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Navigator Schools, which has campuses in Gilroy and Hollister, was recently granted a third charter petition to open a school in Watsonville by the state Board of Education.

Navigator plans to open Watsonville Prep School in August 2019, according to Navigator staff.

The state board’s decision comes almost a year after Navigator was rejected by the Pajaro Valley Unified School District.

Along with its petition, Navigator submitted a list of more than 200 meaningfully interested families who signed forms signaling their intent to enroll if the school was authorized.

“Navigator determined the community, PVUSD and Navigator could benefit from a local Navigator campus” in Watsonville, according to Navigator officials. “With several members of the leadership team having strong ties to the Watsonville community, the combination of need and organizational dedication only emphasized the commitment to making a difference in the Watsonville community.”

The state Department of Education staff recommended Navigator’s approval to its board, which voted unanimously Jan. 9.

More than 100 Watsonville families, community members and supporters attended the meeting in Sacramento to support Navigator’s petition, according to Navigator staff.

Navigator also got support from Gilroy Unified and Hollister school districts, both authorizers of Navigator schools in their respective areas.

After listening to 90 minutes of public testimony, including strong words of support from Gilroy Unified, Hollister School and Healdsburg Unified districts, and asking questions of both the Pajaro Valley Unified School District superintendent and Navigator staff, the state board members voted unanimously to approve the charter petition.

“From day one, Navigator’s mission has to been to be a positive influence on public education throughout the state of California, not just on the students who attend Navigator schools,” said Kirsten Carr, Navigator’s director of engagement and partnerships. “We look forward to establishing this same type of strong relationship with our fellow educators in Watsonville.”

Navigator has failed in past attempts to open its charter schools in Morgan Hill and Salinas.

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