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'Family Ties' Actress Joins Fight To Keep Chino Charter School Open

CHINO ( — Parents in Chino are outraged that their child's charter school might be forced to close.

Former child actress Tina Yothers, best known for playing Jennifer Keaton, the youngest daughter on the hit sitcom "Family Ties" (NBC  1982-89), has joined the fight to keep Oxford Prep Academy open for five more years.

The school, also known as OPA, could be closing and that's not sitting well with Yothers or the other parents.

She told KCAL9's Crystal Cruz why she's fighting the possible closure.

"It's mind-boggling," she said.

She said she was  shocked to find out the Chino Valley Unified School District has recommended the school get the ax.

"The kids wants to be here. My kids want to be here. If they have a 105 temperature, they want to be here," Yothers says.

She doesn't understand why the school is being targeted.

"We are successful. Why would you shut down a program that works?" she asks.

According to the district, there's a long list of problems with the 6-year-old school.

"The OPA Chino charter renewal petition budget presents an unrealistic financial operational plan for the proposed OPA charter school," the board wrote.

The principal disagrees.

"They've had every budget we've had, so we would like to know as well what they mean," says Andrew Crowe, OPA's principal.

More than 1,000 kids from Chino and surrounding cities attend school here, including Caitlyn Welsh's son, who's enrolled in special-education classes.

"Kind of a no brainier for me and him. His classmates love him, and he's thriving. To know that it might be taken away and he'd be back in a restricted environment would be devastating," Welsh says.

No one from the district would talk to Cruz on camera. Instead, a spokesperson said the superintendent will speak at a board meeting Thursday.

KCAL9's Stacey Butler reported from that meeting where parents were furious after the Chino Valley Unified School District voted -- unanimously -- to close the school and not renew its charter.

"I'm absolutely baffled," said parent Carrie Birchler, "as are the thousands, the thousands of parents and students out here tonight."

The school superintendent shocked parents when he charged the school with hiding financial dealings and misrepresenting facts.

The revelations, he said, made him sad for the students.

"Students are the collateral damage," said  Superintendent Wayne Joseph, "they are the victims in this tale of arrogance, over-reach and greed."

Officials with the school denied the allegations. Many parents called it a miscommunication.

"There was no effort at problem solving. And there was no effort to look at the document and working out their misunderstanding," said Birchler.

Many of the parents told Butler they weren't going to let the school close without a fight. They plan on appealing the decision with the County Board of Education and said, if they have to, they'll fight all the way to Sacramento.


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