Emergency Board Meeting
Board members in attendance: Mr. Brian Jones, Chair; John “Skip” McKoy, Vice Chair; Mr. Will Marshall;
Mr. Don Soifer; Dr. Darren Woodruff; Ms. Sara Mead and Mrs. Josephine Baker, Ex-Officio and Secretary
Mr. Brian Jones called the Board meeting to order at 6:16 p.m. Mr. Jones stated that the purpose of the meeting was not one that brought any joy to anyone. He stated the purpose of the meeting was for the D.C. Public Charter School Board to consider a proposal for charter revocation for Young America Works Public Charter School. Mr. Jones stated that the meeting called was not a public hearing. It was the beginning of a process. He described the process as one in which board members would ask questions and decide whether to proceed with a revocation proposal, and if so, there would be an opportunity to request a public hearing at a later time.
Mr. Jones asked PCSB staff member Dr. Jacquelyn Boddie to read the proposal for revocation into the record. The proposal was read as follows:
The School Reform Act of 1996, as amended, provides the D.C. Public Charter School Board (“PCSB” or the “Board”) with the authority to revoke a charter if the PCSB determines that the school:
(a) “Committed a violation of applicable law or a material violation of the conditions, terms, standards, or procedures set forth in the charter, including violations relating to the education of children with disabilities; or
(b) Has failed to meet the goals and student academic achievement expectations set forth in the charter.”
Young America Works Public Charter School (YAWPCS) opened in fall 2004. The charter was granted to this school “to create a viable vocational/technical career-based public school for high school students; those students who have demonstrated that they are interested in pursuing career training.” The school serves 315 high school students, grades 9-12, twenty-eight of whom are special education students.
While the vocational education mission of the school is laudable and adds value to the preparation of high school students seeking to develop vocational skills, the PCSB reviews of the school over the past three years have evinced serious inadequacies in all facets of the program—academics, governance, compliance and finance. As such, the school is in violation of the “conditions, terms, standards, or procedures” as described in its charter, particularly “egregious violations relating to the health and safety of all students attending the school.”
Young America Works Public Charter School is a candidate for revocation, as a result of the following violations of the terms of its charter agreement and applicable laws:
School Reform Law § 38-1802.04 (4) (A):
? Failure to maintain the health and safety of all students attending such school. Specifically, PCSB reviews have documented that in school years 2006-2007; 2007-2008 and 2008-2009, the school has not adequately maintained a safe and orderly environment. Additionally, parents, guardians, and students have not been satisfied with the school’s climate, thus rendering inadequate rating levels. The following list enumerates numerous acts of violence and disorderly conduct occurring on a regular basis: hallways where faculty monitoring is not consistently in place for student transitions; thefts; frequent group fights in the building and in the neighborhood; physical threats against faculty and student clientele; attacks on faculty; property set on fire in the classroom; gross disrespect on the part of students toward faculty; student insubordination, bathroom wall occurrences of graffiti; offensive language; hall disruption; class cutting; loitering; persistent tardiness to school and to class; persistent neighborhood concerns regarding inappropriate student behaviors in the community, as students arrive and depart form the school facility and finally a student stabbing in the hall (during transition between classes) that resulted in critical injury and the student’s resuscitation and stabilization on a hospital respirator.
The leadership was directed to submit a site-specific safety plan by December 21, 2009, to the PCSB that would address the need for a complete climate overhaul. Leadership was directed to provide quarterly updates, as well. The school did neither, and to date, has not complied with either mandate. A generic plan, already developed and copied, was forwarded to the Board with no subsequent updates. Consequently, effective monitoring and follow-through to establish a safe and orderly school culture have yet to occur. The climate and culture of the school continues to be dangerous and volatile.
Charter Agreement-Section 5.1L, 5.2:
? Failure to provide the PCSB with other reports as the PCSB shall reasonably request. Leadership failed to submit a school-specific program document, as directed by PCSB written correspondence dated December 10, 2009. The school was directed to identify on-site safety goals, indicators, programs, plans, actions to be taken due to site-based incidents of violence and disruption in the building during the month of November. The school was directed to identify persons responsible, FTE, and timelines to begin and complete stages and phases. The school has not complied with this Board directive.
Charter Agreement-Section 1.3H:
? Lack of sufficient books and other supplies for all students attending the school, and failure to develop and provide curriculum materials to all teachers at the school. Specifically, PCSB reviews have documented that YAWPCS does not have sufficient books or supplies for students. (See recent Program Development Review Reports)
Charter Agreement-Section 2.1:
? Failure to operate in accordance with the mission statement provided in its application. Specifically, PCSB has documented that YAWPCS has experienced unacceptably low rates of attendance and high levels of truancy (72% truant and 16% suspended 2008-2009; result: 83% of students not attending classes.) In May 2009, the PCSB issued a Notice of Concern in the area of truancy. Attendance: SY 2007-08: 71.2%; SY 2008-2009: 74.9%; in January 2009, the PCSB issued a Notice of Concern in the area of attendance. The acceptable rate for high school attendance is 87%. Further, PCSB transcript reviews have documented irregularities that compromise the educational program’s viability, as it relates to scheduling students with a comprehensive, authentic academic program for a reputable high school diploma: fourteen grade 10 students were scheduled during the fall semester with no official record of credits or courses completed to authenticate enrollment in grade 10 classes; eight grade 10 students were scheduled for classes for which they had already received a Carnegie Unit and had passed in previous semesters; twenty-nine students’ letters of understanding contained false or inaccurate credit completion/accumulation data; forty-four grade 10 students were not scheduled for any mathematics courses for the 2009-2010SY year on the date of the PDR (December 2009). Thus, none of these students has received the appropriate preparation to perform adequately on the DCCAS in geometry/Algebra I assessment, scheduled to be administered to 10th graders in April 2010.
Historically (i.e., four consecutive years) YAWPCS student proficiency rates in mathematics have been profoundly low: 2006 math proficiency rate: 14%; 2007 math proficiency rate: 4.9%; 2008 math proficiency rate: 4.2 %; 2009 math proficiency: 12.7%.
The Secondary Records Audit conducted during the summer of 2009 revealed that only 14 of the 91 freshmen enrolled at YAWPCS were on track to graduate on time, having been scheduled for and passed all of the required course work for promotion to grade 10. Fifty-three students of the 91 freshmen enrolled had either failed Algebra I or were never scheduled to take Algebra I while in grade 9.
Historically, reading proficiency scores have been unacceptably low on the DCCAS: 2006 reading proficiency for all students: 17.1%; 2007 reading proficiency: 8.2%; 2008 reading proficiency: 14.8%; and 2009 reading proficiency: 25%.
During the 2008 Program Development Review (PDR), five of thirty-five categories were rated adequate; none were rated proficient or exemplary. The remaining thirty categories were rated inadequate (17 indicators) or limited (13 indicators).
During the 2009 Program Development Review (PDR) two of forty categories were rated proficient; four were rated adequate; seventeen were rated limited and seventeen indicators were rated inadequate.
Charter Agreement-Section 2.4 A, B:
? Failure to design and implement the educational program described in its application. Specifically, PCSB reviews have documented no evidence of a fully developed curriculum to deliver instruction to students or assessments to measure student outcomes based on a fully developed curriculum aligned with the mission of the school. The curriculum is not aligned for any of the majors or certifications identified in the charter agreement: Plumbing Technology major; HVACR major; Architecture and Design major; Auto body Collision Repair major; Auto Technology major; Nursing Assistant certification; Dental Assistant certification; Computer Repair certification; Biotechnology major; Electricity major; Planning, Logistics and Operations major; Auto body Collision Repair major, and Transportation major.
Charter Agreement-Section 2.5:
? Failure to adopt content and performance standards for all subject areas at all grades and other performance levels served by the school. Young America Works Public Charter School does not have a curriculum aligned with industry standards to teach the vocational education program agreed upon in the charter.
Charter Agreement Section 5.1 A; School Reform Act-Section 38-1802.04[c] (11) (B)
? Failure to submit no later than September 1 of each year, annual report in a format acceptable to the PCB as required. September 2008, none submitted.
Charter Agreement-Section 6.7 A, B; School Reform Act § 38-1802.05:
? Failure to submit to the PCSB Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes. Specifically, Young America Works Public Charter School has failed to submit timely board minutes, as required under its charter agreement.
Charter Agreement-Section 6.7 A, B; School Reform Act § 38-1802.05:
? Failure to have a Board of Directors that is in compliance with the School Reform Act. Specifically, Young America Works Public Charter School has not demonstrated that its board includes two parents with children currently enrolled in the charter school.
Mr. Jones asked for members of the Young America Works leadership to come to the table to discuss the proposal with board members.
Ms. Brenda Williams, Founder and Executive Director of Young America Works Public Charter Schools, stated that she was very concerned about the facts read into the record. She stated that this was her first time hearing all of it. She stated that she, “would request an opportunity to review and respond to a number of things that had been collected.” She stated that she was not sure it was correct. Ms. Williams asked that the PCSB postpone the vote on the proposal until after the school leadership had the opportunity to review and respond in writing to the statements in the proposal.
Mr. Jones reiterated that this was the beginning of the process and that within that process the school leadership would have an opportunity to respond to each point in the proposal.
Ms. Williams stated that she wanted the school leadership to have a fair opportunity to present their case, as there was a great deal that reflected on the children.
PCSB Vice Chair John “Skip” McKoy agreed that the school leadership should have the opportunity to respond to the statements in the proposal, but added that the PCSB was committed to doing what it needed to do to address the concerns in the proposal.
Mr. Jones stated that he didn’t believe that this was the first time that much of these issues had been presented. He stated that PCSB members had visited the school and staff members had communicated with the school leadership numerous times on such issues. He stated that he didn’t want to give the impression that the statements in the proposal or the proposal were “out of the blue.”
Mr. Clifton Mitchell, a new YAW board member, stated that he could not address some of the issues mentioned in the proposal, but he could speak to the issue of school safety. He stated that he had visited the school unannounced several times and had not seen the things mentioned. He said that he had seen staff in hallways. As for the concerns about the incidents in the community, he stated that he didn’t see how the school could be held accountable for what had been happening in the community.
PCSB member Don Soifer inquired if the YAW board chair was present at the meeting and was informed that he was traveling. He asked the school’s acting principal, Ms. Nadine Evans, if there was anything she cared to add.
Ms. Evans responded that she didn’t have much to add; that she had been working on the issues raised in the school’s most recent program development review.
Mr. Soifer asked PCSB staff member Jacquelyn Boddie if the PCSB had received the school’s most recent safety plan. Dr. Boddie indicated that the plan submitted appeared to be generic. Mr. Soifer asked Ms. Evans if she felt the plan was adequate. Ms. Evans answered that the school leadership had been comfortable with what was being done in the school building. She indicated that they had “implemented some of the things” in the plan, but she stated they would need to look at the safety plan to be sure that she was accurately stating that fact.
Mr. Soifer stated that he was happy to see a large turnout of parents and students. He thanked the PCSB staff members for their meticulous work and the knowledge they provided regarding the assessment of the school. He stated to the audience that the PCSB, as the charter school authorizer, was charged with laws and a legal framework by which it must hold charter schools accountable. He stated that he looked forward to hearing from the school leadership on the issues in question. Mr. Soifer stated that he was quite familiar with the record, but had not yet made up his mind. He stated that it was reasonable to say that revocation was certainly a possibility. He added that the PCSB members take very seriously that the school is charged with the responsibilities of student safety and academic preparation, and they expect that the school’s leadership and board do as well. He stated to parents and students that the board members care about the students and invited them to call or email him anything they would like the board to consider.
Board member Will Marshall stated that he was sorry about the purpose of the meeting, but he was not surprised. He stated that the PCSB had issued several notices to the school already. He said the record was comprehensive. Mr. Marshall stated that he had seen schools with one problem; YAW is a school that is struggling in every area. He stated that he understood it his responsibility to make sure that the charter schools uphold their charter agreements related to services to students; the charter schools should be closed if they do not. He added that the current situation was no reflection on the students; it was a reflection on the school’s board.
Mr. Will Marshall moved in favor of the proposal to revoke the charter of Young America Works Public Charter School. Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried.
Board chair Brian Jones stated that the board and school were at the beginning of the process. He echoed his concern for the students and families being served by the school. He stated his most critical concern was about the learning environment. Mr. Jones informed the school leaders that they had 15 days from the receipt of the notice of the board’s decision, to decide if they wanted to have a hearing.
Mr. Jones stated that, in addition, the PCSB board would appoint a monitoring team to make sure that the PCSB had a good assessment of all school conditions, including inventory, curriculum and safety. The monitoring team will report regularly to the PCSB.
Lastly, Mr. Jones echoed the sentiments of Mr. Soifer, acknowledging the extraordinary degree of work that went into assessing the situation and preparing for the meeting. He stated that the PCSB could not do its work without the devoted efforts of its staff.
Mr. Jones adjourned the meeting at 6:46 p.m.