DOVER — Although parents and students had urged state officials to give them one more chance, the state Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to close Pencader Business and Finance Charter School.
Secretary of Education Mark Murphy recommended Thursday that the state take the extreme step of revoking the school’s permission to operate as a public school. The state board moved swiftly to do so.
Murphy said Pencader’s team did not submit a plan that addressed concerns communicated to them by the state, including improving student performance, strong governance of the school, and a plan for recruitment of more students and a new school leader.
“Pencader failed to seize the opportunity this process afforded it to articulate a clear, quality plan for a path forward. I would have expected to see a plan with specific measurable steps, goals and objectives to improve this school and the achievement of its students,” Murphy said.
The school will close in June, state officials said.
Pencader has struggled for quite a while. I’ve written about the school last July here, and last August here and here. I’ve watched all this come to a head, and held off calling for outright closure once the new Pencader Board came into being, but this passage from Nichole Dobo’s article had my eyebrows raising.
The new school leadership submitted plans for moving forward that contained errors and omissions, said John Carwell, director of the charter school office in the state Education Department.
For instance, Pencader’s leaders reported that the school outperformed the state average on student achievement tests, Carwell said. In reality, the school was below the state average on math and reading assessments, he said. This mistake, and others, showed the school’s leaders were “ill-prepared, at best,” he said. Subsequent reports did not convince state leaders otherwise, he said.
Ill-prepared, at best? At best?
If it’s true that the new school leadership reported false achievement test scores, as well as other errors and omissions then they should be investigated. Isn’t this sort of thing against the law?
And while I sympathize with Pencader parents and students who will now scramble to enroll in new schools, the charges of falsifying documents and other yet unnamed errors and omissions makes me believe that closing Pencader is for the best.
What would an education post be without Kilroy – who’s about to get a spanking!
Many Pencader charter students are there because they and their parents feel traditional public schools have failed them. And now a charter school from managerial operations failed them. Students were not failed by teachers or themselves. Personally I feel now is the time to up the stakes and school Choice options. Give these Pencader students the same per student funding Pencader was getting and allow them to apply it to a private school. It’s only fair! Two school systems failed them!
Hey! We’ve been down this road before, my friend! My argument then, stands now. Here’s what I said:
Here’s my problem with Kilroy’s “victim compensation” voucher idea: He limits the victims. He is saying that the family whose child is attending a charter that closes has demonstrated the desire to leave/escape a public school, therefore that child deserves a voucher.
I wondered about the children who applied to the charter but didn’t get in? Didn’t they demonstrate the same desire? Should we give them vouchers, as well? If not, why not?
And what about the child with no advocate willing, or able, to complete a charter application? Would they not be considered victims? Shouldn’t any child in a failing school be considered a victim? And if we do consider them victims, then wouldn’t they be eligible for vouchers and direct transportation?
Go back to his first post where he calls for legislation. He is saying that it is the DOE’s responsibility to secure seats for the children of a failed Charter at “another charter school or traditional school with a rating of superior or commendable…”
Seriously? I’m sure I’m not the only one who would have a problem with these families being moved to the front of the Choice line. How is it fair that people who have opted out of the public school system be given preferential treatment over those who have stayed in the system? I might start attending school board meetings to witness the fireworks. And the public school parents who end up being bumped down the list would have a strong grievance.
Another commenter already figured out a way to game Kilroy’s idea:
So if this comes to pass, let’s start “PlanToFail Academy.” It won’t cost much since we can rent by the month, and it’s not like we need books or anything. We can have all our kids into top schools by this time next year!
Funny, but true.
And another commenter, Observer, clears up the issue by placing the responsibility where is belongs.
I have an idea… Let’s make a law/rule that says existing charter schools & any new charter school must develop a plan for what happens to their students if they fail academically and/or financially. This should be a requirement. They want to exist, so they need to come up with the fallback plan. This puts the responsibility for charter school success & failure where it belongs – on the people that started them. The state shouldn’t need to come up with or pay for what happens to the children of the failed charter schools. Charter schools took them out of the traditional system, they should document a plan of how to reintegrate them if something goes wrong. If they refuse to come up with the plan, then they should be closed.
Observer for the win.
I do feel badly for Pencader students. Changing high schools is hard. I also think the process of closing Pencader dragged out too long. Every time someone mentioned Pencader I had to bite my tongue and not yell, “For crying out loud, could someone put that school out of its misery?” Harsh? Maybe, but it was torture watching its slow death when everyone knew there were basically only two things that could save Pencader – Political intervention or a large charitable donation from someone like the Longwood Foundation.
I was actually quite surprised the movers and shakers of the Charter community didn’t step in and write a check. Perhaps they knew something about Pencader we didn’t know. And given John Carwell’s, director of the charter school office in the state Education Department, comments about errors and omissions on the plan submitted by the new board and the claim that Pencader’s leadership didn’t submit accurate achievement test scores perhaps the people who could have saved this school had reason not to.