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Reversal by charter school authority lets Las Vegas academy operate

Updated May 5, 2020 - 3:35 pm

An online charter school scheduled to be shut down after this year will continue operating after all, following a reversal by the state’s charter authority on Tuesday.

The State Public Charter School Authority voted in January to deny Nevada Connections Academy’s renewal request, citing the school’s poor achievement rates, particularly in comparison with other charters in the state.

But NCA staff said the school serves a population of students who have struggled in traditional schools, often arriving at the academy after two or more other schools.

The school filed a lawsuit to reverse the charter authority’s decision in March, charging that the charter authority was breaching an earlier agreement with the school by not renewing its contract despite improved graduation rates.

At the Tuesday meeting, SPCSA Executive Director Rebecca Feiden said the recommendation to dismiss the lawsuit and grant the school a three-year contract did not change the charter authority’s belief that the school’s academic performance was subpar.

Instead, she said, dismissing the lawsuit would allow both the school and the charter authority to focus on future improvement at the high school. The elementary and middle schools will close at the end of this year under the agreement.

“There is still substantial need for improvement and school staff needs to focus on making sure graduates are prepared for life after high school,” Feiden said.

Charter authority board members also expressed dismay that the school has been up before the board multiple times in recent years.

In a statement Tuesday, school Executive Director Chris McBride said the school appreciated the new agreement to keep the school open.

“This agreement, which was approved by a unanimous vote, allows Nevada Connections Academy to continue serving our high school students while working with the Authority to improve the school’s performance rating,” McBride said. “We are confident through this partnership the school will demonstrate that it can meet the expectations identified by the state.”

Contact Aleksandra Appleton at 702-383-0218 or aappleton@reviewjournal.com. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.

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