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March 29, 2011
DC Public Charter School  Board
Board Meeting Minutes

Board Members in Attendance: 
Mr. Brian Jones (chair); Mr. John “Skip” McKoy; Ms. Emily Bloomfield; Mr. Don Soifer; Ms. Sara Mead; Mr. Will Marshall; Mrs. Josephine Baker (ex-officio)
Mr. Brian Jones called the meeting to order at 7:47pm
 
Acknowledgement of Public Officials
No elected officials were present.
 
Administrative Committee
The contracts for March 2011 for more than $25,000 were received by the PCSB and were read and accepted into the record.

School Oversight Committee- Request to Approve Technology Plans
Mr. Don Soifer presented the requests for approval of the technology plans for SEED Public Charter School and DC Bilingual Public Charter School, and moved that they be accepted.  The Board approved their technology plans unanimously.
 
School Oversight Committee- Proposal to Issue Board Action for Attendance and Truancy
Ms. Kimberly Worthington of staff presented the proposal before the Board.
Ms Kimberly Worthington stated that the DCPCSB policy requires public charter schools to maintain an attendance rate at or above 85% and a truancy rate at or below 20% on a quarterly and annual basis in order to avoid Board action. 
The schools that failed to meet the required attendance threshold are:
 

School                                                                                           at or above 85% (Required)_

Hope Community PCS-Lamond Campus                         78.8%

Latin American Montessori Bilingual                                 78.0%

William E. Doar, Jr.PCS for the Performing Arts             83.8%

(Upper Campus)

 

The schools that failed to meet the required truancy threshold are:

School                                                                                                    below 20% (Required)_

William E. Doar, Jr.PCS for the Performing Arts                    23.66%

(Upper Campus)


Ms. Kimberly Worthington continued that per the established policy, the proposal is to issue Notices of Concern to the aforementioned schools for failure to establish and maintain required attendance and/or truancy rates.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion to issue Notices of Concern.  A motion to issue Notices of Concern was moved by Mr. Skip McKoy and seconded by Mr. Will Marshall.  The motion was carried unanimously.

School Oversight Committee- School Financial Update- William E. Doar, Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts
School Representative: John Goldman, Chief Financial Officer
Mr. John Goldman presented the Board with a financial update on William E. Doar, Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts (Doar).  In his financial update, Mr. John Goldman gave an overview of the current status of Doar’s loans from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and United Bank, and Doar’s plans to negotiate a new lease for more favorable terms with their current landlord.  Mr. John Goldman added Doar has ongoing weekly updates with their board of directors on the issue of the school’s fiscal and financial issues.
Mr. Brian Jones asked the status of Doar’s proposal to increase school enrollment by 60 students.  Mr. Goldman responded that Doar is on pace to meet the goal of a 60-student enrollment increase, and that renegotiating the terms of their lease with their landlord would not serve as an impediment towards meeting that goal.
 
Mr. John Goldman asked the Board for clarity on the length of Doar’s conditional continuance granted at the Board’s January 24, 2011 meeting.  Mr. John Goldman stated that he was under the impression that Doar would have a 4 month conditional continuance, but that he had received communication from DC PCSB staff that indicated differently.
Mrs. Josephine Baker said that she believed that Doar had until April.  Mr. John Goldman answered by stating that he thought that Doar had 4 months, and that the Board’s meeting minutes stated that it was in fact 4 months.
Mr. Brian Jones said that the Board will check the minutes from the January meeting and that they will abide by what is stated in the record.

School Oversight Committee- School Program Update- SAIL Public Charter School
School Representatives: Rick Offner, CEO of SAIL; Terry Bunton, School Director
Mr. Rick Offner began his update to the Board by stating that it has been 2 years since he has joined SAIL, and in that time the school has overhauled both their curriculum and governance structure.  Mr. Rick Offner then briefed the Board on SAIL’s difficulties in obtaining the necessary financing to operate because of their fluctuations in student enrollment.
Mr. Bunton added that he is looking forward to working with Friendship Public Charter School (Friendship).
Mr. Brian Jones then asked the Board if they had any questions.
 
Mr. Will Marshall asked the representatives from SAIL for greater elaboration on their relationship with Friendship.  Mr. Rick Offner answered that Friendship would officially takeover SAIL’s current facility and assist with the school’s operations.
 
Mr. Brian Jones asked for further questions.  There were none.

School Oversight Committee- Charter Review- Hope Community Public Charter School
School Representatives: James Kemp, Board Chair; Kevin Welch, Board Treasurer; Jen Gorenstein, Board Secretary; Dr. Chloe Marshall, Tolson Campus Principal; Niyeka Wilson, Lamond Campus Principal; Michael DePass, Imagine Schools
Ms. Carolyn Trice of staff presented the review before the Board.
Ms. Carolyn Trice read to the Board that Hope Community Public Charter School (Hope) underwent a full charter review, and based on findings from that review, met the goals and student academic achievement expectations set forth in the charter, has not committed a violation of its charter or engaged in patterns of fiscal mismanagement.  Further, Hope has adhered to generally accepted accounting principles and is economically viable.  Hope is a candidate for charter continuance based on the criteria stated in the School Reform Act.   
 
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked Hope about their low DC CAS scores and about what the school is doing to improve them.  Mr. James Kemp answered that Hope is making sure that parents are given updates on their children’s academic progress and that Hope will continue investing in their teachers to improve student learning.
 
Dr. Chloe Marshall addressed the problem of truancy at Hope and said that the influx of new students to Hope had stretched their previous system of monitoring truancy to the limit.  She also added that many students who were leaving in the day to receive radiation treatments were incorrectly being marked as absent.  Dr. Chloe Marshall then addressed boosting academic achievement by stating that Hope had a new academic schedule put into place, was offering ongoing professional development to staff, and that the school was using data better to drive improvement.
 
Mr. Brian Jones asked Hope as to why there is such high staff turnover.  Ms. Niyeka Wilson answered by saying that if teachers are not shown to be effective after attempts at professional development, then Hope seeks to bring in new staff to replace them.  Dr. Chloe Marshall added that Hope looks at data, and if a teacher is shown that they are not performing, then they are removed.
 
Mrs. Josephine Baker asked about what is being done to improve the performance of ELL students.  Dr. Chloe Marshall answered that Hope has put a new literacy director in place to help with improving ELL performance.
Mr. Skip McKoy asked about how Hope has had a negative liquidity ratio for the last 4 years.  Mr. Kevin Welch answered by saying that Hope made a decision early on to invest heavily in the school facility itself with the plan of growing into it, and to operate at a loss for doing so, until they reached full enrollment.  He also added that Hope had worked with Imagine Schools to restructure their debt, and predict that the school will be completely debt free by 2015.
 
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion.  Mr. Will Marshall moved for granting charter continuance and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded.  Ms. Sara Mead informed Hope that while they have met their requirements, the Board expects better performance from them in the future.  The motion was unanimously agreed to.  Ms. Emily Bloomfield abstained and Mr. Don Soifer recused himself.

School Oversight Committee- Candidacy for Proposal of Charter Revocation- Nia Community Public Charter School
School Representatives: Rev. Willie F. Wilson, Board Chair; Reem Labib, Academic Director; Martina James, Executive Director
Ms. Jacqueline Scott-English and Mr. Jeremy Williams of staff presented the proposal before the Board.
Mr. Jacqueline Scott-English read before the Board that pursuant to the School Reform Act, the DC PCSB may revoke a charter if it determines that a school has “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 has failed to meet the goals and student academic achievement expectations set forth in the charter.”  Additionally, the DC PCSB must propose revocation if it has determined that a school “has engaged in a pattern of non-adherence to generally accepted accounting principles; has engaged in a pattern of fiscal mismanagement; or is no longer economically viable.”   She followed that Nia Community Public Charter School (Nia) is in its fifth year of operation and currently serves 196 PK-6 grade students.  The school has a mission statement, philosophy and vision that articulate the need for stakeholders within the school arena to foster a nurturing community-centered environment which prepares all students for life-long academic success.
 
The vote to approve the revocation proposal was based on:
•  Charter Agreement-Sections 1.1 and 2.4Failure to design and implement the educational program described in its application.  The PCSB Program Development Reviews have documented over the past three years that there is limited evidence of a fully developed curriculum to deliver the instructional program to students.  According to the November 2010 Program Development Review, “Nia is in the initial phase of curriculum mapping that serves as the blueprint for the development of a clearly identified, comprehensive written curriculum document to support effective instructional delivery. Implementation of the curriculum with fidelity remains a challenge for the school.”  Further, on page 38 of the approved charter application, Nia was to use the AIM curriculum, which was developed by Dr. Bernida Thompson, to “…tie the curriculum together in a coherent fashion.  The curriculum provides students with multiculturalism by demonstrating the non-fragmented genus and continuum of history and scientific contributions to all cultures.”  While there is evidence that the school celebrates multiculturalism, there is no evidence that Nia uses the AIM curriculum to tie curricula pieces together.
 
• Nia’s approved application purported that a Saturday School would provide an enrichment program for students who needed academic support in the areas of reading and mathematics.  The school does not offer a Saturday School program, and therefore does not extend one-on-one tutorials, web design, horseback riding, canoeing, drama, sewing, or music (band and orchestra) to broaden struggling students’ personal, physical, and intellectual scope as stated in the application.      
• Failure to design and fully implement the educational program described in the application has led to poor academic performance as evinced by the DCCAS data outcomes over the past four school years.  
•  Charter Agreement-Section 1.1Failure to meet the goals and student academic achievement expectations set forth in Nia’s charter.  The approved charter application indicated that, “Students will attain above standard proficiency in basic reading and mathematical skills on standardized [assessments].”  Nia has experienced a downward trajectory, declining from a high of 44% proficiency to a low 28% proficiency in reading between the 2007-2010 school years on the district-wide assessment (DC CAS).  The school demonstrated uneven performance in math, increasing from 0% proficiency in 2007 to a high of 32% proficiency in 2009 on the DC CAS.  Yet, there was a sharp decline of
• 9.39% in Nia’s math performance on the 2010 DC CAS assessment.  
• Academic achievement results for Nia’s special education students have been exceptionally low.  From 2008 to 2009, special education students’ proficiency levels rose from 0% proficiency to 13% proficiency in math on the DC CAS.  This subgroup’s math scores declined to a mere 9% proficiency in 2010.  While there is a downward trend in math for the special education students, this group flat- lined in reading.  Zero percent of this subgroup performed at the proficient level in reading in the past three testing cycles.
• There is evidence that Nia has identified and administered several standardized assessments (DC BAS, SRI, and Star Math), however, internal academic achievement data have not been consistently reported to the PCSB.  According to the November 2010 PDR, “Assessment results are shared with school staff and the BOT, but less consistently with other stakeholder groups.”  Nia reported in school year 2008-2009, and the PCSB verified, that only 24% of its K-5 grade students demonstrated proficiency on the SRI reading assessment to the PCSB.  However, the school provided no data for the SRI math assessment, DC BAS, Star Math or Letter People that year and reported no academic achievement data for the 2009-2010 school year.    Further, Nia neither provided nor reported academic achievement data for the 2006-2008 school years to the PCSB.  
•  Charter Agreement-Section 3.1 A (vi); Section 5.1 A; and School Reform Act §38-1802.04 (c)(11)(B)   Failure to submit an annual report in compliance with the School Reform Act.   As of March 22, 2011, Nia has not submitted an annual report as required by the School Reform Act.  On the date that the annual report was due (September 1st), the Executive Director requested a 30-day extension to submit Nia’s annual report.  The extension was denied at that time.  On September 20th, the Board placed Nia on probation and extended the deadline for submitting the annual report to October 1st.  The school once again requested and was granted an extension through December 2010.  On November 29th, Nia sent correspondence stating that it would provide the annual report in January 2011.  The school came before the Board on December 20th to discuss a number of issues, including the failure to produce an annual report.  The Executive Director noted that, “Due to pending litigation facing the school, Nia is apprehensive about providing data without ensuring its accuracy.  Much of Nia’s data was manually entered and not in a format that can be easily manipulated.  Nia seeks the ability to submit to the Board and to the public, information that has been audited, checked, and reviewed.”  Nia has not ensured accuracy of the data nor has it provided said data for public review.  As such, Nia has failed to make public school performance data and other pertinent information as required by the School Reform Act for the 2009-2010 school year.  
 
Mr. Brian Jones gave a summary of the process for charter revocation, and made clear that the Board’s vote is not a revocation of a school’s charter.  He added that the schools in question will not have a chance to address the Board this evening, but that they will be given a chance to do so at a public hearing on the proposed charter revocation, if that is what the Board ultimately proposes.
 
Mr. Jeremy Williams gave the Board a synopsis of Nia’s current fiscal and financial situation.  Mr. Jeremy Williams stated that early in Nia’s existence there were substantial internal control issues that led to the misappropriation of funds and that an external audit of Nia found up to possibly $600,000 missing.  He added that Nia immediately implemented DC PCSB-approved fiscal control standards and that Nia’s 2010 fiscal audit will be positive.  He added that the school is economically viable and that the lease on the school’s facility is set to expire on June 30.
 
Mr. Brian Jones asked Mr. Jeremy Williams asked about the prospect of two large cash inflows coming to Nia, and where they are coming from.  Mr. Jeremy Williams answered that one of the cash inflows is coming from a refund from Nia’s landlord and that the second one is from a still yet anonymous investor.Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion.
 
Mr. Skip McKoy asked Ms. Jacqueline Scott-English about Nia’s non-fiscal progress since Nia’s last appearance before the Board in December 20, 2010.  Ms. Scott-English answered that she had seen some evidence of improvement in the school’s climate for students, but was unaware of any progress since December 2010 and that Nia had still not provided the Board with their annual reports to her knowledge.
 
Mr. Don Soifer moved for a motion to propose charter revocation.  Ms. Emily Bloomfield seconded the motion.
Mr. Will Marshall said that Nia’s performance is abysmal and that the Board should approve new and better schools rather than salvage poor ones.
 
Mr. Don Soifer wanted to emphasize that the vote the Board would be taking is the start of a process and that his mind is not yet made up on whether or not Nia should ultimately have their charter revoked, and that he will give Nia full and fair consideration.
 
Ms. Emily Bloomfield asked Ms. Jacqueline Scott-English about Nia’s special-education performance.  Ms. Jacqueline Scott-English answered that according to OSSE, Nia has only completed 42% of their special education reviews.
The motion to propose charter revocation was carried unanimously.
 
Mr. Brian Jones again reiterated that this vote is only the beginning of a process and thanked the Nia community for coming before the Board.
 
School Oversight Committee- Candidacy for Charter Revocation- Ideal Academy Public Charter School
School Representative: Dr. George Rutherford, Principal; Ms. Patricia Cook, President of the Board of Trustees
Ms. Charlotte Cureton and Mr. Jeremy Williams of staff presented the proposal before the Board.
Ms. Charlotte Cureton read before the Board that pursuant to the School Reform Act, the DC PCSB may revoke a charter if it determines that a school has “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 has failed to meet the goals and student academic achievement expectations set forth in the charter.”  Additionally, the DC PCSB must propose revocation if it has determined that a school “has engaged in a pattern of non-adherence to generally accepted accounting principles; has engaged in a pattern of fiscal mismanagement; or is no longer economically viable.”  Ideal Public Charter School (Ideal) was authorized by the District of Columbia Board of Education in 1999 and in 2007 was transitioned to the DCPCSB. As stated in the charter application, the mission of the Ideal Public Charter School is to insure that students actualize their fullest potential in mind and body through a balanced academic and affective program.  The students will be empowered to excel academically, to achieve maximum self-reliance and personal fulfillment and to be self actualized as competent, contributing citizens of a diverse global society. Ideal Public Charter School currently serves approximately 400 students on two campuses from preschool through grades twelve.
The vote to approve the revocation proposal was based on:
 
Charter agreement violation – Section 1(A) and Section II (B)
• Failure to design and implement the educational program described in its application. The PCSB Program Development Reviews (PDR) have documented over the past three years that there is limited evidence of a fully developed curriculum to deliver the instructional program to high school students.  According to the January 2010 Program Development Review, “Ideal is in the initial phase of developing a curriculum framework to support the instructional delivery at the high school level.” While some teachers understand the developing curriculum and implement it effectively, it remains limited in its implementation across the high school level. The approved charter application states on page A13, “When the Charter is approved in November, 1998, a curriculum team will be hired to complete curriculum for grades 5 and 6.  Afterwards, every year preceding the addition of each grade, the curriculum performance standards and assessments will be developed.”
• The charter application indicates that the Ideal educational system is based on accelerated-learning methodologies, particularly those developed by the philosopher-educator, George Lozanov, called Suggestopedia. According to the definition as stated by the author, this method of learning, a combination of suggestion and pedagogy, makes learning a pleasurable, natural process by:
o incorporating music, art, role playing and games into the curriculum;
o placing great emphasis on the quality of the learning environment; and
o showing teachers how to create an emotionally safe and rich environment that motivates learners to expand their perspectives and increase their capacity to learn.
A review of the PDR for the last three years, 2008-2010, gives no indication that this methodology is incorporated into the instructional program or that any professional development in this area has been given to teachers to enable them to effectively deliver the aforementioned program.  The November 2010 PDR interviews and documents reveal that there is no program in place for advanced learners. The charter application states on page A31, “Students in junior high school and high school who participate in this (talented and gifted) program may find themselves as juniors in high school, in an academic position, which allows them the possibility of graduating from high school early.”
• The charter application references that computer stations will be in each classroom to provide a mechanism for teachers to keep records, lesson plans, tests logs and to communicate with parents. The computer stations would enable teachers to maintain an accounting of all students’ qualitative and cognitive measures of their academic performance.  This has not been put into place after twelve years of operation.
• There was no evidence of leveled texts for guided reading; limited evidence of classroom libraries in use; and limited evidence of technological resources in use such as LCD projectors and computers stations.
• An integral part of the Ideal’s mission is the implementation of an affective program so that students will actualize their fullest potential in mind and body. While there is evidence that the school performs relaxation rituals through mediation and centering/quiet activities, there is no measurement to indicate the impact and effectiveness of these activities on the academic success of students. There is no clear alignment between the affective program and the curriculum, which is currently under development, resulting in the school not being able to fulfill its mission.
Charter Agreement Violation – Section I (A); Section II (A) and Section IV (A)
• Failure to meet the goals and student academic achievement expectations set forth in Ideal’s charter.  Failure to design and fully implement the educational program described in the application has led to poor academic performance as evinced by the DCCAS data outcomes over the past three school years. The approved charter application indicates that, “Students will show a minimum of one year growth in all academic areas by the end of each school or shall exceed the 80% percentile on composite scores for each grade level. In the last three (3) years the lower school’s test scores have remained in the 40 to 45th percentile range.  The lower school made AYP from the years 2003-2005, however in School Year (SY) 2006, the reading score was 37.04% -- down from 56.45% in SY 2005.  Similarly, the math score for SY 2006 was 22.96% -- down from 56.45% in SY 2005. The school has not been able to recoup since and the school’s reading scores in 2009 dropped (-3.46%) and have only shown marginal growth since. The high schools’ test results for the last two (2) years are dismal, ranging in the 25-35th percentile and dropped (-3.52%) in reading and (-1.74%) in math over the last two (2) years.
 

Years

READING

MATH(lower school)

Years

READING

MATH(Upper School)

2008

47.98%

36.42%

2008

47.90%

36.42%

2009

44.52%

44.52%

2009

38.71%

25.81%

2010

44.59%

46.62%

2010

35.19%

24.07%

 
• Information taken from the November 2010 PDR reveals that there were no science lab materials for hands-on science.  This may be a contributing factor to the DC CAS test Biology proficiency of 45.45% for the 2009 and 22.07% for the 2010 school years. 
• Ideal lower school has been identified as School Improvement Year I and the high school has a Restructuring Year I status.

Mr. Jeremy Williams provided the Board with a fiscal update of Ideal, and stated that the school has provided all of their fiscal audits on time and received favorable reviews from auditors.  He added that Ideal owes OSSE $2 million at the end of the year in loans, but is hoping to receive favorable terms of conditions with OSSE.  He added further that Ideal has a low liquidity rate.
 
Mr. Brian Jones asked Ms. Charlotte Cureton about Ideal’s test scores and whether they were trending up or down.  Ms. Charlotte Cureton answered that both reading and math scores dropped at the high school level.
Emily asked Ms. Charlotte Cureton about ELL.  Ms. Charlotte Cureton answered that a plan for ELL learners is in place, but that it is not reaching ELL students.
 
Ms. Sara Mead asked if there are any fiscal factors that could push Ideal over the edge.  Mr. Jeremy Williams responded that Ideal can ill-afford to lose their cash flows and that it can remain afloat if they receive a favorable renegotiation of the terms of their loan with OSSE.  He added that after June 30, Ideal loses access to its current facility.
 
Mr. Brian Jones asked Ms. Charlotte Cureton about how sound Ideal’s governance is.  Ms. Charlotte Cureton answered that Ideal has a new board chair and that their governance under the new chair’s leadership has improved since the Governance Deep Dive Review in the 2009-10 school year
 
Mr. Don Soifer asked about Ideal’s lower school’s enrollment ceiling.  Both Ms. Charlotte Cureton and Mr. Jeremy Williams responded that they did not know.
 
Mr. Skip McKoy asked what grades Ideal started with when they opened.  Ms. Charlotte Cureton answered that Ideal started with their lower school first.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion.  Ms. Sara Mead moved to accept the proposal for charter revocation and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded it.  The motion passed 6-0.
Mr. Brian Jones reiterated the Board’s procedure moving forward with charter revocation.

Public Comment
Mr. Brian Jones opened the floor for public comment.
Ms. Vanessa Carlo-Miranda, Director of Grants Management and Compliance from OSSE, came forward to discuss OSSE’s responsibility for federal grants and the organization’s concerns for closing charters.  Ms. Vanessa Carlo-Miranda stated the need for proper management and closeout of federal funds when a charter is closed, the completion of grant reports, that parents of special education students receive information on their due process rights, and that schools keep up with data reporting mandates.  She closed by saying that OSSE is committed to offering technical assistance with the closing of schools.
 
Ms. Corliss Lowry came before the Board to issue a complaint against Friendship Public Charter School.  She told the Board about her son’s expulsion from the school and how the school had not followed their own disciplinary handbook when they met with her over her son’s expulsion.  She stated that when she asked the school for information on their board of trustees that she was not given it and that the school’s principal never arrived for their scheduled meeting.
Mr. Brian Jones thanked Ms. Corliss Lowry for sharing her complaints with the Board and advised her to seek out Friendship’s board of trustees and share her complaints with them as well.

Mr. Brian Jones adjourned the meeting at 9:26pm.