It appears like the 560 students at The Paideia Academy in St. Louis will be looking for a new school next year. The State Board of Education voted to deny the renewal of the Academy’s charter.
Elbert Dorsey with the Board of Trustees for Paideia Academy wants to appeal the decision.
“We want the board to reconsider the action… and see what steps need to be taken on behalf of the kids,” Dorsey said.
Jocelyn Strand, the Director of A+ Schools and Charter Schools for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said there were just too many non-compliance problems with Paideia’s application for renewal.
“There were a number of items it was related to curriculum, related to assessment. They had some issues with performance and governance related issues and their accountability plan,” Strand said.
The renewal application was originally tabled in 2007 because of performance issues at the Academy, and the charter was extended more than once to allow the school to continue to operate. Since then, Missouri S&T in Rolla pulled its sponsorship of the program.
Board Member Reverend Stan Archie of Kansas City questioned Strand as she presented the findings to the board before the vote.
“And so they had a failed process and they want to put in the exact same application under a different sponsor. Is that correct?” Archie asked.
“That’s correct,” Strand said.
It was a unanimous ‘no’ vote from the Board, which will cause the Academy’s charter to cease to exist June 30th
“It was the only option for Paideia at this point, their application was non-compliant. They ahs been provided prior notification by their previous sponsor about a discontinued relationship, they’d been looking for a sponsor for well over a year and there was no chance for them to become compliant within the time frame we needed to present to the board,” Strand said.
Lincoln University has written a letter of intent to become a sponsor for the Academy, but Strand said that’s not the same as becoming a formal sponsor, which couldn’t be completed in time for the coming school year. She says it’s highly unlikely the Academy could function this school year.
“As a public charter school, I don’t know how that could happen. Not utilizing this process,” Strand said.
Strand says recovering from this action is not unprecedented.
“That has happened before. In Kansas City, Southwest Charter School was in operation, they failed to secure a renewal from their sponsor. When they did that they operated the next year as a private school and then secured a sponsor for the following school year. So it is possible, the financial situation itself makes that a little more difficult unless they have a financial backer,” Strand said.