Board Members in attendance: Mr. Brian Jones, Chair; Mr. Don Soifer; Dr. Darren Woodruff; Ms. Sara Mead
Mr. Brian Jones called the public hearing to order at 6:40pm
Request for Charter Amendment- William E. Doar J. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts
Ms. Kimberly Worthington from staff introduced William E. Doar Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts’ request to remove the high school component of their charter.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for any questions or comments from the Board. Hearing none he asked for a motion. Ms. Sara Mead moved to approve the charter amendment, and Mr. Don Soifer seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Public hearing adjourned at 6:43pm
Mr. Brian Jones called the public meeting to order at 6:45pm
Acknowledgement of Public Officials
No elected officials were present.
Approval of the Agenda
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion to approve the agenda for the evening. Ms. Sara Mead moved the motion and Mr. Don Soifer seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Approval of the November Minutes
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion to approve the November minutes. Dr. Darren Woodruff moved the motion and Mr. Don Soifer seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
School Oversight Committee- Request to Approve Accountability Plan- Two Rivers Public Charter School
Ms. Rashida Kennedy from staff introduced Two Rivers Public Charter School’s request to approve their revised early childhood education accountability plan
Mr. Brian Jones asked the Board for questions or comments. Hearing none he asked for a motion. Mr. Don Soifer moved to accept the accountability plan. Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Schools Oversight Committee- Request to Operate in a New Location- Capital City Public Charter School
Mr. Brian Jones seeing that there were not yet any representatives in attendance from Capital City Public Charter School decided to move to the next item on the agenda.
Schools Oversight Committee- Notice of Concern for Compliance- Howard Road Academy Public Charter School
Representatives: Latonya Henderson, Board President
Ms. Monique Miller from staff introduced the proposed action concerning Howard Road Academy Public Charter School’s failure to have a Board of Directors in line with guidelines set forth by the School Reform Act (SRA). Ms. Monique Miller noted that Dr. Latonya Henderson spoke to PCSB staff and informed them that at Howard Road Academy’s board meeting last Thursday they approved a vote to approve new members who would put the school in compliance with the SRA.
Dr. Latonya Henderson also stated that Howard Road Academy has approved new members to their board so as to be in compliance with the SRA and that the former board members now serve as part of a non-voting advisory board.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if there was any confusion about the rules of composition of Board of Directors. Dr. Latonya Henderson said no, that they have no excuse and was not a focus until it became a serious problem.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if she could speak more about the new board members.
Dr Latonya. Henderson said they brought in Monica Ray, a businesswoman in Southeast DC; Ms. Lawson, a parent who works at NASA; Mr. Ray Slade, a District government employee; and Sandy Allen, former DC Councilmember.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked the length of the terms.
Dr. Latonya Henderson said that she does not know.
Mr Brian Jones asked for a motion.
Ms. Monique Miller addressed the Board to let them know that if they are in approval of Howard Road Academy’s new board composition that they can just table the board action rather than vote.
The Board agreed to table the action.
The contracts December 2011 for more than $25,000 were received by the PCSB and were read and accepted into the record.
Schools Oversight Committee- Request to Operate in a New Location- KIPP DC Public Charter School
Mr. Brian Jones asked for representatives from KIPP DC to come forward. Seeing none he asked if the presence of school representatives was necessary for this action. Ms. Monique Millers answered saying not for this particular matter. She stated that this request to operate a new school was the last in a series of openings that were approved through in the school’s 2006 charter amendment.
Ms. Monique Miller introduced before the Board KIPP DC’s request to operate a school at a new location.
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion. Mr. Don Soifer moved to accept the request to operate in a new location and Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded it. The motion passed unanimously.
Schools Oversight Committee-Charter Reviews
Mr. Brian Jones introduced the charter review process and noted that the PCSB has recently launched the Performance Management Framework, and that it will be an important part of the Board’s evaluations of charter schools.
Mr. Brian Jones went on to add that pursuant to the School Reform Act, the PCSB is granted with certain oversight powers to measure school accountability within the 15-year terms of each charter school. The Act states, among other things, that the PCSB “shall monitor the operation of each public charter school” to which it has granted a charter, and “shall ensure that each school complies with applicable laws.”
The PCSB anchors its oversight responsibilities on its performance management system, the Performance Management Framework and Accountability Plans, both of which were developed under the guidance of the Act.
Booker T. Washington Public Charter School
Representatives: G. Hope Asterilla, Principal; Richard English, Board Chair; Vanessa Watson, Vice Principal; Jim Kang, Development Director; Edward Pinkard, Executive Director
Ms. Charlotte Cureton from staff introduced the pending charter review before the Board. She noted that there is a concern about how the school deals with children with disabilities and that it is a candidate for charter continuance.
Mr. Brian Jones said that the trajectory of the reading and math scores for the school is uneven and asked for them to talk a bit about what they’re doing from an instructional standpoint to bring an upward trajectory to their scores.
Mr. Richard English said he is happy to be addressing the Board and that the Board of Directors at Booker T. reviewed the report and that they are going to be making changes. With regards to instruction, the school still has an unfilled position for assistant principal for instruction and that the school’s board has decided to engage in a national search to fill that position.
Dr. G. Hope Asterilla said that Booker T. is a building trades school that focuses on those who have not done well in traditional academic programs. They test all students at the beginning of ever year to develop a baseline for data. She said that there was unevenness in test scores and that they have introduced academic tutoring, mentoring, support from software and academic boot camps in an effort to improve them.
Mr. Don Soifer offered the school an opportunity to respond to Ms. Charlotte Cureton’s point made earlier that not all students with disabilities have access to a Free and Appropriate Education. Dr. G. Hope Asterilla said that they were working with Ms. Charlotte Cureton to improve and boost staffing to meet the needs of students with disabilities. She added that the school previously had someone to work with these students, but that individual has since fallen ill and that the school is in interviews to try and to fill the position and that the school is currently using a temp.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if the staff was not up to meeting the needs of SPED students.
Dr. G. Hope Asterilla said they were up to the task but that many of these students had been identified after the start of the school year using Scantron tests and that they could not identify them through ProActive sooner because they were having trouble accessing it and the SEDS data.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if their students are arriving at the school with any risk factors that the Board should be aware of.
Dr. G. Hope Asterilla said that the students reflect the community that the school serves.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if they have a sense of the proportion of students who graduate and join the trades.
Mr. Richard English said that 100% of their students get into college and that the school has supports to keep students in college once they start, including a $500 scholarship.
Mr. Edward Pinkard said that the mission of the school is to provide students skills in the trades. He said that there were many young black men and women coming to construction sites looking for work as laborers when what was needed were applicants for skilled positions. Many of these young people don’t know the salaries for those working in the building trades. In terms of the exact number, they are not able to track the exact number of students who progress into the trades, but they see an increase in students who want to join the trades.
One of the challenges that Mr. Edward Pinkard sees is that many of the students feel just beat down. They have trouble seeing how they can go from where they are to where they want to go. Because of this the school emphasizes self esteem.
Mr. Brian Jones asked if there is anything that they are doing to track students after they graduate.
Mr. Edward Pinkard says that it is much easier now than in the past to keep up with students because of Facebook.
Mr. Brian Jones asked if they’re trying to systematize this.
Dr. G. Hope Asterilla said that they use DC Caps now and have explored other systems like Naviance.
Mr. Don Soifer said that he will support continuance but that he does not want the school to lose track of this discussion and to lose track of the progress that they have made.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if the additions to their staff are enough to drive academic performance. As noble as their mission is the Board still wants to see more academic progress.
Dr. G. Hope Asterilla said that having more staff would help in taking some off the burden off the principal, who is currently handling much of it herself.
Ms. Sara Mead said that she wanted to underscore the seriousness of the issue about the SPED items and that this is a serious violation and will result in them coming back before the Board.
Mr. Don Soifer moved to grant continuance, and Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
School Oversight Committee- Request to Operate in a New Location and to Raise Enrollment Ceiling- Capital City Public Charter School
Representatives- David Bennett, Board Chair; Karen Dresden, Head of School; John Bryer, Director of Finance and Operations
Ms. Kimberly Worthington from staff introduced Capital City’s request to operate in a new location for the 2012-2013 school year and to have their enrollment ceiling raised to 1000 students before the Board.
Mr. Brian Jones asked about the maximum occupancy of the new facility.
Ms. Karen Dresden said the maximum occupancy is about 1200. The elementary students would be housed on the first floor, middle school students on the second and high school students on third floor.
Mr. Brian Jones asked if the facility will drive changes to instruction.
Ms. Karen Dresden said no and that they have been planning for some time to move to a school that can meet their needs. She added that currently the Upper School has no common space so they cannot have all their students meet in one space.
Mr. Don Soifer asked about the timetables on the project.
Mr. John Bryer said that they have negotiated with the District and are ready to move forward with construction and to have complete renovation of the majority of the building done by August.
Mr. David Bennett said that they have alternative plans in place if the renovation has any hiccups.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if there was any outreach to the local ANC.
Ms. Karen Dresden said that they have unanimous support from them.
Mr. Brian Jones made note of a letter from the ANC supporting them.
Ms. Sara Mead asked about their decision to serve 3 year olds.
Ms. Karen Dresden said that they’ve done a lot of work around this planning and that the school has an early childhood planning group made up of parents and teachers. The decision was made to serve younger students so they have the benefits of more time in school and an opportunity to better adapt to the school’s program.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that previous schools who resided in that proposed area had concerns about transportation.
Ms. Karen Dresden said that they are in the process of working through that and are looking at possibly providing a shuttle from the Metro.
Mr. David Bennett said that their current operating budget has a placeholder for transportation and that they have budgeted for it and now are in the process of devising a solution.
Mr. Don Soifer moved to approve both proposals. Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
School Oversight Committee-Charter Review
KIPP DC Public Charter School
Representatives- Jane Hoffman, Director of Finance; Laura Bowen, Chief Academic Officer; Joshua Boots, Director of Data and Analytics; Laura Reinhauer, Senior Accountability Manager; Edmund Han, Director of Operations
Ms. Monique introduced the charter review before the Board and noted that the school is a candidate for charter continuance.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said they are a good example of good things for kids who too many people might cast off.
Mr. Brian Jones congratulated them for their Tier 1 designation under the PMF.
Dr. Darren Woodruff moved to approve charter continuance and Ms. Sara Mead seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Community Academy Public Charter School
Representatives- Francis Smith, Board Chair; Sadia White, Chief Academic Officer; Brenda Bethea, Director of Compliance and Monitoring; Greshawn Fulham, Treasurer
Ms. Kimberly Worthington from staff introduced charter review before the Board and noted that the school is a candidate for charter revocation.
Mr. Francis Smith read a prepared statement to the Board. In his statement, Mr. Francis Smith spoke of the representatives from the school with him and said that they are ready to answer any questions that the Board might have. He said that Community Academy plays a crucial role to the communities that they serve in 5 physical venues and one online program and that they are one of the largest employers in Ward 4 and one of the oldest and largest charter schools. The school serves 1800 students. They have a great school culture and that parents make a deliberate choice to send their children to CAPCS.
Mr. Francis Smith went on to add that more than 122 of their students are homeless. While their academic performance is not where they want it to be, they have shown signs of progress with five of their six schools showing growth. They also have a sound financial structure which the Board has cited as a model.
Mr. Francis Smith added that while they have a charter management organization (CMO) running the day to day, the Board is now more engaged than ever before and are extremely active in operations. Board members now see their role differently and the Board is now more engaged, including in Operations. They have worked to improve communication with the Board. Their by-laws permit employees on their Board. If there are any omissions or lack of clarity, he assumes full responsibility. The board is committed to greater transparency with the PCSB. He also added that the school has also benefited from the PCSB’s trainings and communications.
Mr. Francis Smith closed by wanting to make it perfectly clear that CAPCS is fully committed to transparency and PCSB policies.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that if one just looks at the PMF scores, there is one campus that falls in Tier 1 and one ranked low in Tier 3 and it makes him think that the organization might be stretched. Can they comment on Community Academy’s strengths and expectations?
Mr. Francis Smith said that where Rand is concerned there is a small population that take DC CAS and that makes the number of students who take the DC CAS a very narrow band. He has added that the board of Community Academy is more engaged and that they have moved to meeting day to day. He also added that there is a board member on staff acts as a sort of an ombudsman between CAPCS Board and the management who can bring to the board’s attention more quickly issues that they may need to be aware of. He added that now they have a problem with the amount of email as a result of the increased communication and conference calls. He ended by saying that it is important to note that all campuses except for Rand showed progress this year.
Ms. Sadia White said that they are focused on raising the bar and closing the achievement gap across all campuses, more focused on data driven instruction and that they are being more collaborative and inclusive in their approach.
Mr. Francis Smith said that there are also some cultural differences amongst campuses.
Mr. Brian Jones said that the inconsistency of performance across campuses begs the question about governance and how the board interacts with the CMO.
Mr. Francis Smith said that the relationship between the board and CMO has changed considerably. The board was more used to being a policy body that reviewed academic results and finances, but the board has changed substantially in the last year, in no small part to trainings offered by PCSB. The board has restructured themselves and now they meet far more frequently as committees. They have board members assigned as primary contacts for each campus and a backup board member to assist them. They have restructured their meetings to meet at one campus and the first part of the meeting they meet directly with parents and teachers to discuss their concerns. The board discusses with them recruitment and retention. They have largely reframed themselves around the PMF and have decided to reorganize their schools so there is an Academy Leader for the upper schools and a leader for the pre schools. So, yes, the management company is still their agent, but one now with more direction from the Board.
Ms. Sara Mead asked what the schools are doing to boost achievement in the early grades.
Ms. Sadia White said that with the review of the data they have put coaches for math and literacy at all of the lowest performing campuses. Specifically for early childhood they focus on backwards mapping using the Common Core. Ms. Sadia White went on to say that we really need to now hone in on is every child reading by kindergarten. Ms. Sadia White also added that they have streamlined how they assess them and focus on curriculum, using the data to inform teachers how to move students and in deliberate professional development.
Ms. Sara Mead said that there are concerns about the special education review at the Community Academy Online campus.
Ms. Brenda Bethea said that those students in question are being worked on with the academy leader to get the help that they need, and that the Online campus contracts out related services for special education students arranged through K12.
Ms. Sara Mead asked if Community Academy is providing payment for those student services.
Ms. Brenda Bethea said that parents arrange the services and then invoice CAPCS.
Mr. Don Soifer said that he wants to focus on the RAND campus and wanted to know why accountability plans for that campus were incomplete.
Ms. Sadia White said that they are no longer waiting until the end of the year to gather accountability plans.
Ms. Sadia White said that they have put systems and processes in place where teachers no longer administer assessment to their own students.
Mr. Don Soifer asked if they have complete data for 2010-2011 school year
Ms. Sadia White answered no.
Mr. Don Soifer asked about student performance on the TerraNova. He asked if those numbers were a surprise to the school.
Ms. Sadia White said that she started in July and what they do now is administer the TerraNova in the fall to develop baseline data. The school has just completed a fall assessment and have disaggregated the data to gauge where they are to see where they are going.
Mr. Don Soifer asked if there are any other data points to rebut the 0 for 7 and not so near misses.
Mr. Francis Smith said that on the board’s part there wasn’t an understanding of the accountability plans and not a lot of compliance with it. At each campus there was a misunderstanding of what was required. What Ms. White has brought is a clear understanding of what is expected at every level. He added that they have held town halls on where they discuss where they need to be. Now no longer any confusion on any person’s part on what is required in terms of accountability plans.
Mr. Brian Jones wanted to clear up what the confusion was about. He wanted to know if they weren’t clear on what it took to meet their targets.
Mr. Francis Smith said that it was both what it would take to reach targets and where the target should be set.
Mr. Brian Jones asked how you have the confusion here but elsewhere in their system they have a Tier 1 school.
Mr. Francis Smith said that even the Academy Leader at the Tier 1 school had difficulty with their accountability plan, so even their best performer had some concerns about the accountability plan.
Mr. Don Soifer wanted to bring up some issues from the PDR last year about students with special needs. He wanted to know about procedures for the timely identification of students with special needs and ensuring adequate resources for them and if anyone could speak to that.
Ms. Sadia White said that they take special education complaints very seriously. So much so that they initiated their own SPED audit. They clearly understand that there are areas of concern to work on. One of those is human capital resources. Another is case management resources. She said that they intend to follow up with the recommendations from their own audit and from their PDR review and that the school is clear that they cannot be slippery in their case management. She also added that their students are given an opportunity to a free and appropriate education with a focus on inclusion where appropriate and co-teaching model.
Mr. Don Soifer said he appreciates the answers and wants to drill down on that question. If the both school and Board have similar findings, are there patterns that they have discovered or specific instructional practices?
Ms. Sadia White said that there were patterns of inconsistency. At one campus they had to reorganize the grade level reorganization. There are also inconsistencies in instructional approach that they must address through professional development, and inconsistencies in case loads for case management. They will be reassigning loads so that it is more equitable. When it comes to instruction they’ve had to hire additional teachers and understand that they have to do it and that it is a work in progress. The PDR confirms what she already believed to be the case.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that he wanted to talk about the primary grades and focus on the Rand and Amos 3 campuses.
Mr. Francis Smith explained that the middle school moved from Rand to Amos 3 campus which offered more advantages for middle school and has more space to develop a middle school.
Mr. Francis Smith said that many students did not carry over to the new campus at Amos 3. Since not every student moved over they have not had the CAPCS legacy carry over that they would have liked, and now serve a different community.
Mr. Brian Jones asked if they have a well settled board or some relatively new members.
Mr. Francis Smith said four new board members came on board in the last year and a half.
Mr. Don Soifer said that of the three years that he has been on the Board they have spent a strong time focusing on PMF. His concerns are about one campus. He said that they have worked long and hard on the PMF and that one of their schools is a candidate for revocation under the PMF, and that from his point of view the plan for the Rand campus does not get them where they need to be. The policies under the PMF are clear and that the Board’s responsibilities are clear and not easy. And, that in best interest of the children he cannot support continuance. The troubles of the Rand campus outweigh the goods of the Butler campus.
Mr. Brian Jones added that it is a very difficult decision for all the reasons Mr. Don Soifer stated. The challenge that the Board has is that they look at a school in a difficult situation. He has enormous respect for the Butler campus and for the members on the board and for their founder.
Mr. Francis Smith responded saying that he recognizes the problems that Rand presents, but they are talking about a relatively small population in a small facility where all of their other facilities show improvement. They have also made a leadership change there and placed a person with a track record of success. Leadership and curriculum are now in place.
He went on to add that there is a 15% gateway for 3rd grade reading at Amos III and 25% gateway for Rand. Mr. Francis Smith continued by stating that Amos III has a new middle school leader, that there is a monthly science fest, and that on a Saturday, CAPCS had 50 students show up on a Saturday. There has been improvement this year, and the school is surveying parents to see what they are looking for.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that he concurs with Mr. Brian Jones and Mr. Don Soifer and wanted to add that they are focused on one campus. He added that across the city, this is the only preschool that rated in this low tier of below 20% in Tier 3.
Dr. Darren Woodruff moved to propose revocation, and Mr. Don Soifer seconded. Mr. Brian Jones said that for the record that if the Board approves the motion this sets in motion the revocation process which offers the school an opportunity for a full public hearing. The motion passed unanimously.
Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School
Representatives- Julia Johnson, Chair; Linda Moore; Founder and Executive Director; Praveen Mooganur, Board Member
Ms. Carolyn Trice from staff introduced the charter review before the Board and noted that the school is a candidate for charter continuance.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked how many years that the school has been in operation.
Ms. Julienne Johnson said that they have been in operation for 14 years.
Dr. Darren Woodruff congratulated them on their Tier 1 status under the PMF and asked them what they could highlight for their successes with their student population.
Ms. Linda Moore said hard work, clear vision and continuing improvement.
Ms. Sara Mead said that their school is one of a number of schools that moved from the Board of Education to PCSB that have flourished. She then asked if anyone could talk about factors that have enabled them to do that.
Ms. Linda Moore said that it goes back to clear vision and that many of the things they do would not be captured in assessments. She also added that their board is awesome.
Mr. Praveen Mooganur added that Ms. Linda Moore’s contributions, character and vision all lead to the school’s success. He added that the school has exemplary parent engagement.
Mr. Don Soifer moved to grant continuance and Dr. Darren seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Integrated Design and Electronic Academy (IDEA) Public Charter School
Representatives- Joseph Stull, Board Chair; Norman Johnson, Executive Director; Charlotte Blount, Principal; David Johnson, Board Member; David Owens, Board Member; Donald Parker, Special Education Coordinator
Dr. Jackie Boddie from staff introduced the charter review before the Board. She listed IDEA’s academic performance over recent years and that the school operates an adult education program outside of their charter. She also noted that the school is not a candidate for charter revocation under PMF.
Col. Joseph Stull said that although their academic report does not sound wonderful, it does not paint a true picture of what the school contributes to their students. He added that they prepare District youth for careers in addition to academics and that they have been accredited by Middle States. Col. Joseph Stull also added that IDEA has stayed true to their goal of taking students with severe limitations and getting them to achieve at a high level and that they have higher than average special education population. He stated that he accepts their short comings and that they take full responsibility but they believe they can overcome them.
Mr. Don Soifer asked if their adult education program exists.
Col. Joseph Stull said that he disagrees with PCSB’s view that an adult education component does not exist within their charter. He believed that it was clear to them and if it’s not to PCSB they will change their charter to make sure they can do it. The program is at no cost to IDEA and is done via a partnership with the University of the District of Columbia (UDC).
Mr. Brian Jones asked what funds they were using for the adult education program and that PCSB had a concern that federal 21st Century Community Learning grant funds were used to pay for staff in the adult education program, contrary to the grant’s purpose.
Mr. Norman Johnson said there are two different funding streams, and that 21st Century Community Learning grants are not used for the adult education program.
Ms. Charlotte Blount said that in the 2010-2011 school year that UDC approached them to run a technology evening program and provided them with $80,000 if they would provide the space. The instructors are hired outside of IDEA and funded with separate dollars provided by UDC.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that one issue is if the adult education program constitutes a violation of their charter. The other issue is the school’s academic performance. Dr. Darren Woodruff pointed towards a decade’s worth of information showing that their student body not performing at adequate levels.
Ms. Charlotte Blount said that in 2008 they made safe harbor, and that in February of 2010 they partnered with Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School about an in house data institute whose lessons and information they use today to drive instruction. She said that they are right on track in terms of the changes that they’re making to the school under their three-year plan.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked why it has taken so long.
Ms. Charlotte Blount said that they are testing grades 7, 8, and 10. Seventh graders are new to the school, and that they serve a transient population and a high special needs population.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said the data shows them to be at the DCPS average for students with special needs.
Mr. Donald Parker gave an update on the school’s special education population.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that there are schools in the community with similar special education populations and that he does not understand why they cannot perform at the same level.
Col. Joseph Stull agreed and said that it frustrates them that they cannot seem to break the code.
Mr. Brian Jones said that he has to interject and said that it does not engender great confidence in him. He said that the Board is looking at a ten-year history of this school and that the Board needs to hear a plan on how to turn this around and that what they are instead hearing is that IDEA does not have a plan and does not know how to attack this issue. He added that it leaves him with a lack of confidence.
Ms. Charlotte Blount said that this is why they elected to implement the National Accountability Foundation model. They feel confident about the trajectory of their test scores and that they will make AYP this year.
Mr. Brian Jones said that he still does not see and upward trajectory reflected in the scores.
Ms. Charlotte Blount said she was not referring to DC CAS scores, but their benchmark data, and that they have identified a huge bubble group.
Col. Joseph Stull said that he does not want to leave the impression with the Board that they have not done anything to try and improve performance.
Mr. Don Soifer asked who is teaching reading now.
Ms. Charlotte Blount said that they have English teachers teaching reading.
Mr. Don Soifer asked if they are content with that and if they have looked into hiring reading specialists.
Ms. Charlotte Blout said that they are looking into that and will discuss it at their next board meeting.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked why those kinds of changes have not been previously been put in place.
Col. Joseph Stull said that they had contracted reading professionals before but had not seen any results.
Ms. Charlotte Blount asked to enter their binder into the record.
Mr. Brian Jones agreed.
Dr. Darren Woodruff moved to propose charter revocation.
Col. Joseph Stull asked if test scores are what drive his decision.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said the PMF drives his decision.
Mr. Brian Jones said the PMF and the School Reform Act drive the decision and that this school has a history of deficiencies and no real plan to address them.
Ms. Sara Mead seconded the motion.
Mr. Don Soifer said that he respects what his colleagues have said and he shares their urgency but he would not vote to revoke. He says that he very much sees a cause for distress.
The motion passed 3-1. Mr. Don Soifer voted nay.
Options Public Charter School
Representatives- Donna Montgomery, Executive Director; Rebecca Roberts, Chief Academic Officer; David Cranford, Clinical Director; Paul Dalton, General Counsel; Peter Hook, Director of Data
Mr. Clarence Parks from staff introduced the matter before the Board and noted that Options may be a candidate for charter revocation.
Dr. Donna Montgomery spoke about the challenges between the PMF and the school’s performance and that last year they came before the Board to renew the school’s charter. She said that she is willing to report to PCSB today and have scientific evidence explaining why they should have an alternative PMF.
Mr. Peter Hook said that any of the numbers from the dashboard provided them do not match with their own data or with DC CAS results. He said that he did a random sampling of the graphs and every one that he found does not seem accurate and cannot see where these numbers have come from. He believes that most of the data in the dashboard is unusable.
Mr. Don Soifer said that for arguments sake we should use the numbers that Options has presented. If he is reading it correctly then the reading proficiency for their general education student body is 12%.
Mr. Stephen Hook said that there was a decline when they were increasing their special education population. He added that 47% of their general education population are one or more years behind.
Mr. Don Soifer asked for the re-enrollment rate for their general education population.
Mr. Stephen Hook said that it is comparable to their special education population at around 60%.
Dr. Darren Woodruffsaid that about half of their students are Level 4 students and if they could explain that in layman’s terms.
Dr. Donna Montgomery said that Level 4 means that they are full-time special education students and require 27 hours or more of special education services.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if serving these students is their core mission.
Dr. Donna Montgomery said that she could not say that. The school provides assistance to any student who needs it.
Dr. Darren Woodruff said that he asks that because at their last Board meeting the Board made their intention known to create an alternative PMF. He asked if they could enunciate some of the challenges from having such a large number of Level 3 and 4 students.
Dr. Donna Montgomery said that they have elevated their academic program, all interventions are in place, they have content specialists, and have hired a chief academic officer. The students are making gains and the evidence is there even if it is not AYP growth. But, the question should be, should it be expected that students achieve at that level. They accept it as their challenge but want to be recognized for their accomplishments. They have students with histories of truancy and now the school has a 90% attendance rate. There is a lot going at the school and hope that the Board endorses the alternative PMF that they have proposed.
Dr. Donna Montgomery said that she has one more concern about the evidence of material violations listed in their charter review.
Mr. Paul Dalton said that in their pursuit of excellence in special education they sought approval for their Shaw campus where students who need up to 45 days can receive services for severely aggressive behaviors. OSSE performed a similar analysis of the PDR and they found no material violations. He added that based on prior legal precedent they are not in violation of any laws. Mr. Paul Dalton said that he is asking the Board to take into consideration this finding and that Options is in compliance as the DC Court of Appeals says.
Mr. Brian Jones entered those documents into the record.
Mr. Don Soifer moved to grant charter continuance and Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded the motion. Ms. Sara Mead said that she agrees with her colleagues that the PMF does not sufficiently address Options’ student population. She has concerns that the school does not believe that their students can achieve at a high level. The motion passed unanimously.
Septima Clark Public Charter School
Representatives- Jay Costan, Board Chair; Jenny DuFresene, Founder and Head of School; Shaunte Edmunds, Principal
Ms. Rashida Kennedy from staff introduced the charter review before the Board and noted that the school is a candidate for charter continuance.
Mr. Jay Costan stated that they are Washington’s only all-male school. He wanted to share data showing academic progress and the need for a permanent home for stability.
Ms. Jenny DuFresne said that their scholars have shown growth in reading and math.
Mr. Brian Jones asked about the New Schools Venture fund.
Ms. Shaunte Edmunds said that it encompasses professional development among other things.
Mr. Brian Jones said that one of the challenges the school has faced is a high attrition rate among teachers. He wanted to know if this program can help stabilize this turnover and if they can talk about the facility issue and high turnover rates.
Ms. Jenny DuFresne said that the staffing challenges are significant. There is no clear data on turnover for all male urban elementary schools to compare their rates of attrition to other schools. She added that because of moving facilities so many times they have in essence become a start up school every year because they lose 50% of their student population with each move.
Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if they are planning on staying at their current location or moving to another space.
Mr. Jay Costan said that they are in serious pursuit of a space right now and have a space that they have identified in Ward 8. He added that placing any conditions on their charter would make it impossible for them to have the finances needed to acquire a permanent location.
Ms. Sara Mead moved to grant continuance but wanted to make clear that granting a 5 year charter without conditions is not a possibility. Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously
Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School
Representatives- Alexandra Pardo, Executive Director; George Brown, Board Chair; Jessica Sher, Director of Development
Ms. Charlotte Cureton from staff introduced the charter review before the Board and noted that the school is a candidate for charter continuance.
Mr. Don Soifer said that he believes very strongly in the school but is concerned about the attrition rate amongst boys.
Ms. Alexandra Pardo said that the enrollment ratio of boys to girls is heavily skewed but that it is not something that they try to do and have not been able to overcome or been able to put their finger on it.
Ms. Sara Mead asked them to speak to their data partnership with IDEA.
Ms. Alexandra Pardo said that they were granted a grant from OSSE to disseminate what they have learned from their school to the community.
Mr. Don Soifer moved to grant continuance and Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Meeting adjourned at 10:50pm