Academia Cesar Chavez School grew out of the Hispanic Pre-College Project a successful 10 year-old outreach program of the University of St. Thomas. The request to develop a school with a focus on the Latino culture came out of focus groups including parents, community members and community organizations. In 1999, the founder, Ramona A. de Rosales and co-founders Tracy Cerda and Martha Dominguez wrote and submitted a charter school proposal to the State of Minnesota and in 2000, they began a year and a half long process of researching, planning, and developing the charter school. The founders worked closely with the National Council of La Raza, Center for the School Change, the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools, and Community of Peace Academy along with several faculty members of the University of St. Thomas including Dr. Robert Brown, Dr. Karen Rogers and others. They also worked closely with community members including Jose Santos Jr., Tom Sanchez, along with other community supporters. The charter school development included the following areas: Accountability, Admissions, After-School Program Design, Board of Trustees Organization and Procedures, Communications/Marketing/Student Recruitment, Curriculum/Student Programming Development, Facilities, Financial, Food
Service, Fundraising, Governance, Health and Safety, Parent Involvement, Partnerships, Procurement, Reporting and Compliance, Social Services, Staff Hiring/Development/Training, Special Education, Technology, and Transportation. The founding board of directors, Ramona A. de Rosales, Tracy Cerda, Dr. Jeffery Cornwall, Larry Lucio, Don Mercado, Paula Sanchez, Allen Selinski, Dan Stewart, Elsa Vega-Perez, were identified and recruited because of their diverse areas of expertise including Human Resources, Finance, Law, Foundations, Community and Education.
In May of 2000, the State of Minnesota granted a charter for Academia Cesar Chavez School to open in September of 2001 with the University of St. Thomas as the sponsor. The first meeting of the board of directors was on June 10, 2000. To find a facility for our school site, we began looking on the Westside of St. Paul per the board’s request. We did feasibility studies for two vacant buildings, the Drake Marble Building and the Windmill Market, to no avail and met with the Boy’s and Girl’s Club to discuss the possibility of sharing facilities. We also researched the possibility of land where we could build a facility, but no available land was found.
In July of 2001 the board voted to hire Ramona A. de Rosales as the executive director of Academia Cesar Chavez. Ramona offered the positions of Academic Director to Tracy Cerda, Community Education Director to Martha Dominguez, and secured a location for our
school on the East side of St. Paul, St. Casimir’s School at 930 East Geranium Avenue.
In June of 2001, the Hispanic Pre-College Project staff left their offices at the University of St. Thomas after UST had decided not to continue funding support for the Hispanic Pre-College Project Department. In July 2001, the staff of Academia Cesar Chavez moved into their new school at the St. Casimir facility.