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Two "Experienced Operator" Charter Applications Approved by DC Public Charter School Board

Release Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2013

For Immediate Release: November 20, 2013 
Contact: Theola Labbé-DeBose, 202-328-2670


Washington, D.C. — At its November 18 monthly meeting, the DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) granted conditional approval to Harmony School of Excellence-DC (Harmony-DC) and Democracy Prep DC (DPDC) to each open one school under the Board’s “Experienced Operator” application procedure. With this conditional approval, the schools could open as early as August 2014. 

Founded in 2000, Harmony operates a network of 40 high-performing college-preparatory science, technology, engineering, and mathematics ("STEM") schools in Texas serving more than 25,000 students.  On a 6-0 vote with one recusal, the Board gave conditional approval to Harmony-DC’s plan to open one school in DC with students in grades kindergarten through fifth, adding one grade each year until it serves students in grades K-12.

“When I visited Harmony I saw active learning with a high level of engagement -- and with Harmony’s STEM focus, I think that would be a very worthy addition to the District of Columbia,” said Board Vice Chair Darren Woodruff.

“We are pleased with the Board’s approval and are moving forward to open Harmony School of Excellence – DC for the 2014-2015 school year,” said Julie Norton, Harmony Director of Communications. “There’s a continuing need for STEM education and we’re excited and committed to providing a model of  STEM education excellence for DC students.”

As part of its normal Experienced Operator application review, PCSB examines the background, experience and track record of the operator. With Harmony, the staff conducted additional outreach including to the Texas Education Agency, U.S. Department of Education, Texas State Board of Education and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

The second approval was for Democracy Prep, which opened its first charter school in New York in 2006 and now serves 2,300 students at five schools in Harlem, NY and Camden, NJ. On a 5-1 vote with one recusal, the Board gave conditional approval to Democracy Prep’s proposal to open a prekindergarten-three through fifth grade school in Ward 7 or Ward 8.

PCSB Board members praised Democracy Prep’s record of improving the performance of students from below grade level to high performance.  “Democracy Prep's commitment to working with underserved and underprivileged students and moving them to proficiency is noteworthy," said Board Chair John H. “Skip” McKoy.

“Democracy Prep Public Schools is thrilled that the DC Public Charter School Board approved our charter application so that we can open a school in Washington, DC. We are excited to be given the opportunity to educate scholars in our nation's capital,” said Alice Maggin, Senior Director of Communications, Democracy Prep.

PCSB previously approved one Experienced Operator application in 2012 from Rocketship DC, which is planning to open one elementary school in August 2015.

To read the applications from Harmony and Democracy Prep, please click here.

About PCSB: The DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) is setting a national model for creating quality public school options through its rigorous review of new charter applications and effective oversight of charter school performance that is leading the transformation of public education in Washington, DC. PCSB oversees 60 public charter schools on 109 campuses serving nearly 37,000 students living in every ward of the city. Learn more at . 

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