Charter School Board Votes Not to Revoke the Charter of Ideal Academy; Accepts Relinquishment from SAIL; Renews Options’ Charter;

Tuesday, May 17, 2011
 
Contact: Audrey Williams   202-328-2748

 
Washington, D.C. —The D.C. Public Charter School Board (PCSB) last night rejected its own proposal to revoke the charter of Ideal Academy Public Charter School.  The decision will allow Ideal Academy to remain open under several conditions.  A deciding factor was the school’s decision to close its high school at the end of June.  The lower school serving pre-school through 8th grade will remain open. 
  
“These decisions are never easy,” said Board Chair Brian W. Jones.  “We sat through Ideal’s hearing and they presented a compelling case. We also spent time listening to the community and to parents and got a sense of the passion the community has for the school,” Jones said.
 
Other Board members expressed confidence in the school’s ability to succeed with its lower school program.  “There was a clear distinction between the performance of the lower school and the high school,” said Board member Emily Bloomfield. “I hope that the school’s leadership will be able to redouble their efforts on the lower grades and show even more growth.”
 
Ideal’s principal Dr. George Rutherford was confident that the school will be able to increase its enrollment in the lower grades and remain financially viable even without the high school.  There are about 130 students enrolled in the high school and about 280 in the lower grades.
 
SAIL
In another decision at its monthly Board meeting last night, the PCSB voted to accept the relinquishment of the charter of the School for Arts In Learning (SAIL) Public Charter School.  The school said it did not have the financial resources to effectively sustain its operations.
 
Options
The Board also voted to renew the charter of Options Public Charter School for another 15 years but said it would be with stipulations.  “This vote for renewal would be like a one-year lease,” Jones said. “If quarterly reports show compliance problems, we will be inclined to move to revocation, and we won’t wait a full year.”
William E. Doar
In January 2011, the PCSB gave the William E. Doar, Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts (WEDJ) a four month conditional charter continuance based on the school’s decision to discontinue its high school program. The Board also agreed to the charter continuance pending the school’s successful restructuring of its finances.
 
At last night’s meeting, the school presented a restructuring plan that included renegotiation of debts and obligations, as well as future budgets that provide for the expansion of the school’s performing arts program.  The PCSB said it needed more time to deliberate on the information presented, as it was seeing it for the first time.  Jones said the Board wanted to be able to digest the new information presented rather than make a snap decision.  “As a matter of sound practice, we want to deliberate over this new information.  It would be irresponsible to make a decision tonight,” he said.
 
School leaders urged the Board to make a decision last night as parents needed to make decisions about their children for the next school year.  Jones promised the Board would make a decision by its next monthly Board meeting.
 
The D.C. Public Charter School Board currently oversees 52 public charter schools on 93 campuses serving more than 29,000 students living in every ward of the city.  Public charter schools now serve approximately 39% of all public school students in Washington, D.C.  Learn more about PCSB at www.dcpubliccharter.com.