Monday, May 19, 2014

MNPS: Drexel Prep Will Surrender Its Charter

Posted By on Mon, May 19, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Drexel Prep, the troubled charter school that was nearly closed three years ago, has surrendered its charter to MNPS and will close after its last day on Friday.

Metro Schools made the announcement via a release:

“We are pleased our clear communication and concerted effort to pursue revocation was met by this response that is in the best interests of students,” said Alan Coverstone, executive director for innovation with Metro Schools. “It is always better for the affected families and employees for the closing school to work in concert with the district.”

Drexel Academy opened in 2011 with State Board of Education approval following four rejections by the Metro Board of Education. Metro Schools uses a rigorous charter review process designed to approve only charter schools that provide a solid plan to increase student achievement with operational and financial stability.

The week of May 12, 2014, the district communicated with the Metro Schools Board of Education and with Drexel Academy its intent to pursue revocation of Drexel’s charter. Low student achievement and growth put the school’s future in question and declining enrollment made the school’s financial position unsustainable.

Drexel currently has 233 enrolled in grades K-6. Drexel families may participate in the district’s choice process and choose another school in time for the start of the 2014 school year.

In 2011, the school narrowly survived a 5-3 vote by the board to close it after failing to provide services for english language learners and special-needs students.

“These children deserve a fighting chance,” school board member Cheryl Mayes said, with an overflow crowd of Drexel supporters looking on. Given the information detailing Drexel’s woes, however, she called the months ahead “do or die” for the school’s leaders.

“You won’t get another chance to do this,” Mayes said. “I don’t want to see any child suffer because of what an adult did.”

In opting for probation, the board went against the will of school district officials who, after investigating Drexel’s wrongdoings, recommended the termination of the Whites Creek-area school.

A two-hour long special meeting Monday evening began with Alan Coverstone, who oversees charter schools for the district, going down a long list of Drexel’s violations. They included failing to hire properly licensed teachers and, consequently, not meeting federal guidelines in regards to ELL and special-needs education. Coverstone said Drexel’s problems constituted violations of Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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