Board Members in Attendance:
Mr. Don Soifer, Presiding; Mr. Will Marshall; Ms. Emily Bloomfield; Ms. Sara Mead; and Mrs. Josephine Baker (ex-officio)
Mr. Don Soifer called the meeting to order at 6:45pm.
Approval of the January Minutes
Mr. Don Soifer asked for a motion for the minutes from the January meeting. Mr. Will Marshall moved the motion. Ms. Sara Mead seconded, the motion was unanimously accepted, and the January minutes were approved.
Acknowledgement of Public Officials
No elected officials were present.
The contracts for February 2011 for more than $25,000 were received by the PCSB and were read and accepted into the record.
School Oversight Committee – Request to Operate in a New Location-Options Public Charter School
Representatives: Jeff Smith, Board of Directors; David Crawford, clinical director; Sharee Lawler, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner
Mr. Clarence Parks from staff introduced the request to the Board for Options Public Charter School to establish an alternative site for students with severe emotional or discipline issues.
Mr. Jeff Smith spoke about the popularity of Options as a place for students who have disciplinary issues, until the state requested that Options take on more students.
Mr. Don Soifer asked if the influx of these new students is the reasoning for the increased number of reportable incidents. A representative from the school answered that that was indeed the reason for the increased number of reportable incidents at the school, and began reading into record Options new proposal for meeting the needs of these new students including their academic curriculum changes, behavior intervention plans, and therapy sessions with a psychiatrist.
Mr. Don Soifer asked that Options explain the details of the timeline for the move to the new site. A representative from Options replied that the proposed new site is not currently occupied by another party, but that it is furnished and ready for their occupation upon PCSB approval. Mr. Don Soifer asked if occupation could happen right away, depending on Board approval. The same representative from Options said that they are ready to move into the new location in a few days of Board approval.
Mr. Don Soifer asked about IDEA compliance and for a discussion about the manifestation of disability, and if Options’ new plan would be compliant with IDEA and federal special education regulations. The same representative from earlier stated that yes, it is, and that they confirmed with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), who they collaborated with on this.
Mr. Don Soifer wanted clarification that the only students using the site would be the students that are being discussed- those students in the proposed 45 day plan, and whose needs are not being met in their current setting and require more wrap around services. A representative from the school replied that that was indeed the case.
Ms. Sara Mead asked if these students had been placed in the new site previously. A representative from the responded that these students had not been placed at the site previously. Ms. Sara Mead then asked where then were they placed. She was informed by a representative from the school that they were placed in a church across the street, a location that the Board had not approved. Representatives from Options apologized to the Board for placing students in a location not given previous Board approval and told the Board that they didn’t know that they needed prior Board approval to operate in new locations.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked if the students are coming out of residential or day settings, and was told by representatives from the school that they are coming from a combination of settings. Ms. Emily Bloomfield stated that Options isn’t providing a residential program for the kids who were in residential programs, and asked what they’re doing to meet the needs of those students. A representative from the school answered that Options reviews each student’s IEP, and that when students are moved from residential facilities into a situation where there are 300-400 students, that these students have difficulty in dealing with such a transition. Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked if the new setting is a combination of residential and standard settings, and was told by a representative from the school that Options was looking at the model of some DCPS schools where there are 10 students in each class, along with three adults. A representative from the school elaborated that the proposed facility is small and that there is no hallway and no stairwell for students to hide and cut class. The number of students in the facility would be quite small, and the way that they plan on moving the students would be restrictive, logistically speaking.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked if students sent there for disciplinary infractions have due process rights and if this location would increase the number of students at Options. She was informed that the students do have due process rights and that the move to the new location would not increase the number of students enrolled at Options.
Mr. David Crawford went into detail about each individual student’s clinical behavior plans and the measures in place for formal and informal evaluation.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked how the school was financing the new location. A representative from the school answered that Options operates in a frugal manner as much as possible and is thus able to find the financing to operate this program.
Mr. Will Marshall asked how the state could ask them to take on more students. A representative from the school said that they had not reached their enrollment cap when the state took their action. Mr. Will Marshall asked what else Options has done to deal with the complaints stemming from their situation. A representative answered that they are doing more work to be involved with their ANC. The school’s principal, Robert Allen, then approached the Board to address that issue.
Mr. Allen addressed the board discussing dismissal policies and how staff is dispersed blocks from the school itself to make sure dismissal is orderly. The school goes to police meetings to be responsive to their neighbors’ concerns. Inside the school they have dedicated their dean to do nothing but mediations (208 of them thus far). It has resulted in a marked decline in aggression, but the numbers are still quite high. He added that Options also engages in home visits, and that he personally does door to door visits with community members to see how they’re doing. He hands out his cell phone number to them as well.
Mr. Don Soifer asked for a clarification about a point related to parent appeals and if they are fully compliant with IDEA process and federal special education laws. A representative from the school answered that it is.
Mr. Don Soifer asked ANC Commissioner Sharee Lawler about parking. Commissioner Lawler is not from the proposed location, and could not speak to that issue. She said she is very pleased with her relationship with Options.
Mrs. Josephine Baker asked how they’re doing their Race to the Top (RttT) responsibilities in addition to this current proposal. A representative from the school said that they’re being monitored very closely by OSSE in regards to their RttT program.
Mr. Don Soifer asked for someone to address parking at the new location. A representative from the school answered that they’ve rented space from New Bethany Baptist Church.
Mr. Don Soifer asked if the new school would maintain the same hours as the current location. A representative from the school answered no, and that the new location would operate from 9am-2:45pm for academic courses, and at 2:45 students will receive counseling.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield moved the motion to approve the new location. Mr. Will Marshall seconded. All were in favor except for Ms. Sara Mead who opposed. Motion passed.
School Oversight Committee- Request to Delay Opening- DC Preparatory Academy Public Charter School Elementary School Campus
Ms. Kimberly Worthington from the staff introduced DC Preparatory Academy’s request to open a consolidated elementary school in Ward 8 before the Board. Mr. Will Marshall moved to grant their request to delay. Ms. Sara Mead seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
School Oversight Committee - Charter Review – Capital City Public Charter School
Representatives: Karen Dresden, Head of School; Ms. Candace Crawford, Chair of Board
Ms. Kimberly Worthington introduced the review findings before the Board. Based on the School Reform Act, Capital City is not a candidate for charter revocation.
Ms. Karen Dresden began by stating the school’s accomplishments in recent history including the start of an upper school and their DC CAS test scores. She also discussed what they’re doing to address their challenges as well.
Ms. Candace Crawford spoke of the school’s plans to expand programs and for new spaces to meet their expansion goals.
Mr. Don Soifer asked for a motion for continuance. Ms. Sara Mead moved for a motion, Ms. Emily Bloomfield seconded, and all were in favor. Charter continuance was granted.
School Oversight Committee – Charter Review - Paul Public Charter School
Representatives: Jim Moss, Board Chair; Kimberly Spriggs; Sterling Ward, Board Member; Kathleen Geary, Board Member; Jami Dunham, Head of School; Danielle Singh, Head of Academics
Ms. Kimberly Worthington introduced the review findings before the Board. Based on the School Reform Act, Paul is not a candidate for charter revocation.
Ms. Jami Dunham gave a summary of Paul’s gains and current academic status to the Board.
Ms. Danielle Singh discussed some of the school’s changes from 2006 until now to make progress, and some of their continuing challenges.
Ms. Kimberly Spriggs spoke on Paul’s financial status and their success in moving forward even with state funding shortfalls and enrollment changes. She also mentioned the possibility of adding a high school and exploring the feasibility of such a move.
Mr. Jim Moss spoke about how much of school leadership and their board is new and that the school is in a transition. He spoke of how the school’s board has taken on greater responsibility in making AYP and finding avenues to make further progress and oversee that the school maintains sound fiscal standing.
Mr. Don Soifer asked for further info on re-enrollment and enrollment. Ms. Jami Dunham detailed how many of the schools in the area have transitioned from a k-5 into a k-8 model, and that as other schools are improving, parents are becoming savvier in terms of where they choose to send their kids, explaining the difficulties in enrollment and re-enrollment.
Mr. Don Soifer asked for a motion. Mr. Will Marshall moved for continuance, and Ms. Emily Bloomfield seconded. The motion was carried unanimously.
School Oversight Committee – Charter Review – Tree of Life Community Public Charter School
Representatives: Carl Hampton, Board Chair; Patricia Williams, Executive Director; James Darrow, Board Member; Leonard Harvey, Business Manager
Ms. Susan Miller of the staff introduced the review findings before the Board. Based on the School Reform Act, Tree of Life is not a candidate for charter revocation.
Ms. Patricia Williams detailed to the Board about their initiatives and what Tree of Life is doing to make improvements.
Mr. James Darrow gave the Board a summary of Tree of Life’s financial situation.
Mr. Don Soifer asked the school’s representatives to speak to their progress in making AYP. Ms. Patricia Williams spoke to the achievement levels depending on grade level and strategies that they are employing to improve progress.
Mr. Don Soifer asked if they still have school buses and offer transportation. Ms. Patricia Williams said that they operate buses and transport approximately 70% of their students
Mr. Don Soifer asked about re-enrollment. Tree of Life stated that they reached close to 60% re-enrollment but would like it to be higher.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked if they reached their enrollment cap. Ms. Patricia Williams said that they meet their targets, but have never had to do a lottery.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked who their geographic competitors for enrollment are. Ms. Patricia Williams spoke to two schools that have either renovated or reopened.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked about the high rate of teacher turnover. Ms. Patricia Williams said that they’re receiving a state grant and as a beneficiary of the New Schools Venture Fund, they’re focusing on keeping teachers. Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked what she thinks their retention rate will look like. Ms. Patricia Williams said that they expect it to be high.
Mr. Don Soifer asked them to speak to their future plans and if they plan to fund academic gains financially. James Darrow spoke to their work to pay off loans to improve liquidity.
Mrs. Josephine Baker had concerns about their curriculum aligning with state standards and what they’re doing to get it to a high level. Ms. Patricia Williams said that she didn’t agree with board staff’s assessment.
Mr. Will Marshall moved to grant continuance, and Ms. Sara Mead seconded. Mr. Will Marshall and Ms. Emily Bloomfield stated that Tree of Life has a long way to go to be where they want to see them. Charter continuance was approved unanimously.
School Oversight Committee – Charter Review – AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School
Representatives: Ann Zummo Malone, Manager of Academic Programs; Jack McCarthy, Board Member; Russ Williams, Executive Director
Mr. Don Soifer pointed out that he has the proxy vote for Mr. Darren Woodruff and that he will be exercising it for AppleTree. Ms. Sara Mead is recusing herself from this vote because she was a former member of this school’s board.
Ms. Marissa Mikoy of staff introduced AppleTree’s review findings before the Board. AppleTree is not a candidate for charter revocation.
Mr. Russ Williams read a third party, independent evaluation of the school’s program. Mr. Jack McCarthy mentioned that they were awarded a federal Investing In Innovation grant.
Mr. Don Soifer asked why AppleTree was pursuing accreditation through Middle States. Ms. Ann Zummo Malone said that Middle States has a more robust self study.
A motion was moved, seconded and passed unanimously. Dr. Darren Woodruff was voted in by proxy by Mr. Don Soifer.
School Oversight Committee – Charter Review – Early Childhood Academy Public Charter School
Representatives: David Schreiber, Board Member; Wendy Edwards, Principal and Executive Director; Thann Ingraham, Vice Principal
Ms. Jacqueline Scott-English of the staff introduced Early Childhood Academy’s review findings before the Board. The school is not a candidate for revocation.
Ms. Wendy Edwards gave a summary of the school’s academic performance. Thann Ingraham gave a summary on their initiatives to make progress which includes personal learning communities, and extended learning day programs as well.
Mr. Don Soifer asked a question about financial process and about procurement and alleged incidences of non-reporting certain purchases and items over $25,000. David Schreiber answered that such lapses are not acceptable to the school’s board.
Mrs. Josephine Baker asked about their plans for facilities. Ms. Wendy Edwards answered that she been working for the last two years with Building Hope to find a facility that can house all of their classrooms. They have no capacity to grow in their current facilities. She added that the school has strong financials and have $1.5 million in reserve and they want to use that to purchase a new property.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked about teacher retention. Ms. Wendy Edwards responded that they have lost 5 teachers: three for poor performance; one retired; and one was murdered.
A motion was moved by Mr. Will Marshall, seconded and passed unanimously.
School Oversight Committee – Charter Review – Howard University Middle School of Math and Science Public Charter School (HUMS2)
Representatives: Sue White, Head of School; Yohance Magubela, Chief Operating Officer
Ms. Kimberly Worthington introduced their review findings before the Board. HUMS2 is not a candidate for revocation.
Ms. Sue White introduced the four board members that were present. She also introduced staff.
Mr. Yohance Magubela spoke to the close relationship between the school and Howard University itself, including offering teacher’s professional development from Howard’s School of Education. Howard provides a computer for every student in school and another one with high speed internet for use at home.
Mr. Don Soifer asked them how they use data to guide efforts to improve quality of instruction for students. Mr. Yohance Magubela replied that they’ve hired a fulltime data specialist to work with teachers and administrators.
Ms. Sara Mead asked about Howard’s instances of non compliance in terms of special education and the steps they are taking. Mr. Yohance Magubela stated that the school inherited incomplete files, began workshops and hired an inclusion teacher.
Ms. Josephine Baker asked about the areas that are limited in curriculum as identified in the Program Development Review (PDR). Ms. Sue White said that they’ve purchased curricula from Montgomery County, MD, and Arlington County, VA for science and hired a curriculum consultant.
Ms. Sara Mead moved to grant continuance. Ms. Emily Bloomfield seconded. The motion was unanimously approved.
School Oversight Committee – Charter Review – Bridges Public Charter School
Representatives: Olivia Smith, Principal and Director; Kate McGuin, Special Education Coordinator; Noelani Mussman; Betsy Centofati, Board Chair
Mr. Clarence Parks introduced the school’s review findings before the Board. Bridges is not a candidate for charter revocation.
Ms. Olivia Smith summarized their school mission and their focus on children with special needs and preschoolers.
Ms. Kate McGuin gave a summary on their special education program
Ms. Betsy Centofati stated that the organizational structure is thin to help finance the pre k program, but that they have won a grant from OSSE.
Mr. Don Soifer asked why they went through Middle States to be certified. Ms. Olivia Smith said that it was a better fit for them, as NAEYC accreditation would require them to change themselves programmatically.
Ms. Josephine Baker asked if they have plans to expand or if they want to remain at their small size. Ms. Betsy Centofati said that this is why they’ve undergone the feasibility study, so that they can see if they can grow in size.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield moved the motion that their charter be continued. Mr. Will Marshall seconded and it was agreed to unanimously.
School Oversight Committee – Charter Review – Potomac Lighthouse Public Charter School
Representatives: Keirston Woods, Board Chair; Raymond Richards, Principal
Ms. Keirston Woods introduced some of the staff and board members on hand.
Ms. Carolyn Trice of the staff introduced their review findings before the Board. Potomac Lighthouse is not a candidate for revocation.
Ms. Keirston Woods thanked the Board and staff for the feedback that they’ve received from the PDR. She gave a short summary of the school’s history and academic plans for the future and finances.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked about keeping leadership in place. Mr. Raymond Richards says that he plans on staying at the school for some time.
Ms. Josephine Baker asked about the increase in performance and what they want to do to sustain it. Mr. Raymond Richards said that they using data to drive performance.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield moved for continuance, and Ms. Sara Mead seconded the motion. Continuance passed unanimously.
School Oversight Committee – Charter Review – YouthBuild Public Charter School
Representatives: Mark Jordan, Board Chair; Andrea Henson, Principal
Ms. Charlotte Cureton of staff introduced their review findings before the Board. She stated that they are not a candidate for charter revocation.
Ms. Andrea Henson gave a summary of school’s enrollment, and how it has met goals of accountability and curriculum. Mr. Mark Jordan summarized the school’s board history and governance and stated that the school is financially stable.
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked about the school’s pass rate on the GED and on attendance. Ms. Andrea Henson said that attendance was a big challenge last year and that they’ve created an “attendance counselor” and put procedures into place to deal with it, and are currently at an 80% attendance rate, and that they are using data driven instruction to focus on the GED.
The Motion was moved by Ms. Sara Mead, seconded, and agreed to unanimously. Dr. Darren Woodruff was voted in by proxy by Mr. Don Soifer. Mr. Will Marshall excused himself after the agenda item began.
Mr. Don Soifer adjourned the meeting at 10:17 pm.