D.C. Public Charter School Board Proposes Charter Revocation of Young America Works Public Charter School

Monday, March 8, 2010
Contact: Audrey Williams  202-328-2748
awilliams@dcpubliccharter.com
 
 
Washington, D.C. — The D.C. Public Charter School Board (PCSB) voted in an emergency meeting March 5, 2010, in favor of a proposal to begin the process of revoking the charter of Young America Works Public Charter School.  The Board said the school had violated applicable law and has materially violated the terms set forth in its charter agreement. 
 
Board Chair Brian Jones explained after the unanimous vote that the Board of Young of America Works will receive a letter announcing the decision and will have the option of a public hearing, if requested within 15 days of receipt of the letter.  If the school elects to have a hearing, its leaders and the public will have an opportunity to respond to the Board’s findings, which were detailed in the revocation proposal and subsequent letter to the school.
PCSB Board members expressed deep concern for the students’ safety and their academic future. “There are comprehensive problems at this school,” said PCSB Board Member Will Marshall. “We have no choice but to discharge our obligation and responsibility under the law.”
School leaders expressed the desire to address the concerns outlined during the meeting.
The violations include:
Violation of Applicable Law - School Reform Act § 38-1802.04:
1. Young America Works (YAW) failed to maintain the health and safety of all students attending such school. 
 Specifically, PCSB reviews have documented that in school years 2006-2007, 2007-2008 and 2008-2009, the school has not adequately maintained a safe and orderly environment. As a result, numerous acts of violence and disorderly conduct have occurred on a regular basis at the school, including:
o thefts;
o frequent group fights in the building and in the neighborhood;
o physical threats against faculty and student clientele;
o attacks on faculty;
o deliberately set fire to property in the classroom;
o gross disrespect on the part of students toward faculty;
o student insubordination;
o occurrences of graffiti on bathroom walls;
o offensive language;
o hall disruption;
o class cutting;
o loitering;
o persistent tardiness to school and to class;
o persistent neighborhood concerns regarding inappropriate student behaviors in the community, as students arrive and depart from the school facility; and
o a student stabbing in the hall (during transition between classes) that resulted in critical injury to the student. 
 
The PCSB reviews were supplemented by complaints from parents, guardians, and students regarding the safety level at the school.
The PCSB directed the school’s leadership to submit a site-specific safety plan by December 21, 2009 that would address the need for a complete climate overhaul. The PCSB directed the school’s leadership to provide quarterly updates as well.  The school has not complied with either mandate.  Instead, the school copied an already developed generic plan and forwarded it to the Board with no subsequent updates. Consequently, the climate and culture of the school continue to be dangerous and volatile.
2. YAW fails to have a Board of Directors that is in compliance with the School Reform Act. 
Specifically, Young America Works Public Charter School’s Board, at the date of the Program Development Review, November 1, 2009, did not include two parents with children who were currently enrolled in the charter school.
Violations of Charter Agreement
1. YAW failed to operate in accordance with the mission statement provided in its application.  Specifically, PCSB has documented that YAWPCS has experienced unacceptably low rates of attendance and high levels of truancy.  During the 2008-2009 school year, the school had a 72% truancy rate and a 16% suspension rate resulting in 83% of students not attending classes. 
In May 2009, the PCSB issued a Notice of Concern in the area of truancy.  In January 2009, the PCSB issued a Notice of Concern in the area of attendance.   The acceptable rate for high school attendance is 87%.
o Attendance for SY 2007-08: 71.2%;
o Attendance for SY 2008-2009: 74.9%.
Further, PCSB transcript reviews have documented irregularities that compromise the educational program’s viability, as it relates to scheduling students with a comprehensive, authentic academic program for a reputable high school diploma: 
 
o Fourteen grade 10 students were scheduled during the fall semester with no official record of credits or courses completed to authenticate enrollment in grade 10 classes;
o Eight grade 10 students were scheduled for classes for which they had already received a Carnegie Unit and had passed in  previous semesters;
o Twenty-nine students’ letters of understanding contained false or inaccurate credit completion/accumulation data; and
o Forty-four grade 10 students were not scheduled for any mathematics courses for the 2009-2010SY year on the date of the program development review (PDR December 2009). Thus, none of these students has received the appropriate preparation to perform adequately on the DCCAS in geometry/Algebra I assessment, scheduled to be administered to 10th graders in April 2010. 
 
Over the past four years, YAWPCS student proficiency rates in mathematics have been profoundly low: 
o 2006 math proficiency rate: 14%;
o 2007 math proficiency rate: 4.9%;
o 2008 math proficiency rate: 4.2 %; and
o 2009 math proficiency: 12.7%. 
The Secondary Records Audit conducted during the summer of 2009 revealed that only 14 of the 91 freshmen enrolled at YAWPCS were on track to graduate on time, having been scheduled for and passed all of the required course work for promotion to grade 10. Fifty-three students of the 91 freshmen enrolled had either failed Algebra I or were never scheduled to take Algebra I while in grade 9.
Historically, reading proficiency scores have been unacceptably low on the DCCAS:
o 2006 reading proficiency for all students:  17.1%;
o 2007 reading proficiency:  8.2%;
o 2008 reading proficiency:  14.8%; and
o 2009 reading proficiency:  25%.
During the 2008 Program Development Review (PDR), 5 of 35 categories were rated adequate; none was rated proficient or exemplary.  The remaining 30 categories were rated inadequate (17 indicators) or limited (13 indicators).
During the 2009 Program Development Review (PDR), 2 of 40 categories were rated proficient; 4 were rated adequate; 17 were rated limited and 17 indicators were rated inadequate.
2. YAW failed to design and implement the educational program described in its application. 
Specifically, PCSB reviews have documented no evidence of a fully developed curriculum to deliver instruction to students or assessments to measure student outcomes based on a fully developed curriculum aligned with the mission of the school.  The curriculum is not aligned  for any of the majors or certifications identified in the charter agreement:   Plumbing Technology  major; HVACR major; Architecture and Design major; Auto Body Collision Repair major; Auto Technology major; Nursing Assistant certification; Dental Assistant certification; Computer Repair certification; Biotechnology major; Electricity major; Planning, Logistics and Operations major; Auto Body Collision Repair major, and Transportation major.
3. YAW failed to adopt content and performance standards for all subject areas at all grades and other performance levels served by the school. 
Young America Works Public Charter School does not have a curriculum aligned with industry standards to teach the vocational education program agreed upon in the charter.
4. YAW failed to submit to the PCSB Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes. 
 Specifically, Young America Works Public Charter School has failed to submit timely board minutes.
Other Findings in Violation of Board Policies
1. Failure to provide the PCSB with other reports as the PCSB shall reasonably request.
School leadership failed to submit a school-specific program document, as directed by PCSB written correspondence dated December 10, 2009.  The school was directed to identify on-site safety goals, indicators, programs, plans, actions to be taken due to site-based incidents of violence and disruption in the building during the month of November.  The school was directed to identify persons responsible, FTE, and timelines to begin and complete stages and phases.  The school has not complied with this Board directive.
2. Lack of sufficient books and other supplies for all students attending the school, and failure to develop and provide curriculum materials to all teachers at the school. 
Specifically, PCSB reviews have documented that YAWPCS does not have sufficient books or supplies for students.
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