Board Approves Three New Public Charter Schools Led by Black and Latino Leaders

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Washington, D.C. -- DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB) voted May 22 to approve three out of eight applications for new public charter schools for the 2018-19 academic year. The three approved were: Digital Pioneers Academy; The Family Place; and North Star College Preparatory Academy for Boys. Three other applications were denied and two withdrew during DC PCSB’s review process.

“We’re pleased to approve three schools that will meet the needs of our diverse student community,” said Darren Woodruff, Chairman, DC Public Charter School Board. “This was a rigorous process with a high standard of approval.”

The Board actions will initially create 205 new middle school seats and 120 adult school seats. The schools are:

  • Digital Pioneers Academy is a computer-science focused middle school that seeks to locate in either Ward 7 or 8. The school will open with 120 6th graders and add one grade per year until it reaches full capacity at 360 students in 2020-21.
  • The Family Place is an adult school that will locate in Ward 1 and educated 120 students in its first year. It will offer English as a Second Language, workforce training and literacy development education to low-income, limited English proficient adults in the District.
  • North Star College Preparatory Academy for Boys is a college-preparatory middle school and will seek to locate in Ward 7 or 8. The school will open with 85 fourth graders, adding a grade each year to serve 425 students in grades four through eight at capacity in its fifth year.

“The Board undertakes a detailed examination of every public charter school application it receives -- and we are committed to only approving the highest quality applicants,” said Scott Pearson, Executive Director, DC Public Charter School Board. “In 2016, the Board conditionally approved one of three applications. In 2015 and 2014, it approved only three out of eight and three of ten, respectively.”

In March, the Board received a total of eight applications, notified Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) citywide of the applications and opened the charter applications for public comment. Meanwhile, DC PCSB staff began reviewing each application, which included 1) analyzing academic, operational, and financial plans, 2) conducting interviews with the founding group, and 3) in applicable cases, visiting existing programs run by the applicants.

The Board held a public hearing and a Twitter Town Hall in April with the residents to discuss the applications. In addition to meeting with Ward Education Councils and community groups about the applications. The applicant groups also met with numerous stakeholders and residents to discuss their school models.