Stating that the days of rubber-stamping charter school renewals are over, the Connecticut Board of Education placed a Bridgeport and a Stamford charter school on probation on Wednesday, May 2, according to multiple news reports.
Stamford Academy Charter School was given one year to improve, in site of pleas from its director and board president that the 14-year-old high school deserved a three-year renewal, according to this news report.
Andrea Weller, principal at Stamford Academy told Allan Taylor, who is chairman of the state Board of Education, that a one-year renewal is unfair.
The state board granted a three-year renewal and probation to New Beginnings Family Academy in Bridgeport. Explorations Charter School in Winchester was given a three-year renewal and a corrective action plan. Brass City Charter School in Waterbury was granted a four-year renewal.
All four state board votes were unanimous.
We used to rubber stamp charter schools, according to Joseph J. Vrabely, a state Board of Education member, who vowed that practice has ended.
The state-funded independent schools, some around since 1997, are now measured on standards adopted in 2015.
Ronelle Swagerty, chief executive officer at New Beginnings Family Academy said she does not mind the scrutiny, according to news reports. Student academic performance at her school dropped — in some cases below Bridgeport Public Schools — because of a fundamental shift in its education model that has taken time to take hold, Swagerty told the state board.
At Stamford Academy, more than 42 percent of its 147 high school students are absent from school on any given day and nearly all meet the definition of chronically absent, missing classes more than 10 percent of the time.
Weller said most Stamford Academy students were kicked out or dropped out of Stamford public schools. Attendance rates may not be up to state standards but much better than they were before they started at the charter school, she said.
The state board was told that the school has a planning grant to develop a more effective mode
Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell said, “We have over 80 alternative schools in state of Connecticut,” Wentzell said. "All (are) being held to exact same standards."
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