weather icon Partly Cloudy

‘We had a good school’: Former TEACH director shares what went wrong

Updated November 6, 2023 - 4:45 pm

Not long ago, TEACH Las Vegas wanted to expand its campus to accommodate more students.

Since opening in 2021, the public charter school on North Rancho Drive grew from about 40 students to more than 400 in elementary and middle school.

“At the end of the day, we had a good school,” said former Executive Director Andrea Moore.

And for some students, she said, it was the only place they felt included or safe.

But in a matter of just a few weeks, things unraveled, said Moore, who resigned in early October.

Last month, the school abruptly canceled classes for a couple of days and police were called to respond to disturbances on campus. The school has since lost many of its teachers and a large number of students.

Trishawn Allison, chair of the school’s governing board, wrote in an Oct. 4 letter posted on the school’s website that Moore voluntarily resigned from her position but didn’t provide a reason for her departure.

“Speaking on behalf of the entire volunteer Board, I want to thank Ms. Moore for her leadership and service to the school since its opening in 2021,” Allison wrote. “She will be missed. Dozens of you, in fact, attended last Friday’s Board Meeting to speak up in support of Ms. Moore and the school.”

TEACH Public Schools, which operates a few Los Angeles campuses, expanded to Las Vegas a couple of years ago.

Moore said on Oct. 30 that things seemed fine at the school up until mid-September when an employee abruptly quit and then wanted his job back. Moore said she told him that he had quit and couldn’t have his job back.

She also claims that a parent began contacting other parents, calling Moore a racist and trying to see if they were on the employee’s side or Moore’s side.

Moore said she was told by a TEACH Public Schools network administrator that 27 complaints had been lodged against her, including the claims that she was being racist and stealing money.

“I didn’t do any of that,” she said.

Moore said the complaints were never investigated and she has seen no copies of any of them.

“I’ve never been in trouble before,”said Moore, a Las Vegas-area educator for 24 years.

Moore also said she worked at Title I schools — those with a high percentage of students living in poverty — and with diverse staffs. Before coming to TEACH, she worked for about a decade with Somerset Academy of Las Vegas.

After first meeting with TEACH officials, “it was like I found my tribe,” Moore said.

Officials at TEACH Public Schools — as well as the Las Vegas school board — haven’t responded to multiple Review-Journal requests for comment since early October, including two last week.

Another local public charter school, Sage Collegiate, is considering a merger with TEACH Las Vegas.

And on Oct. 23, the state submitted a formal tax delinquency complaint after TEACH Public Schools failed to pay more than $320,000 in public employee retirement contributions from February through August.

TEACH Las Vegas’ elementary and middle schools both received a one-star rating — the lowest possible under the state’s school accountability system — as part of data released in September. But Moore said she immediately began working on how to improve academics.

The Nevada State Public Charter School Authority’s board was scheduled Friday to issue notices of concern for academic performance for about a dozen schools, including TEACH Las Vegas.

But the board decided to move the item about TEACH to a December meeting.

In the Oct. 4 letter announcing Moore’s resignation, Allison wrote: “As many of you know, prior to this leadership change, TEACH Las Vegas was already experiencing academic, financial, and other challenges. We have significant room to improve.”

‘Every day, something was happening’

The school was broken into Sept. 18 and security cameras were disconnected remotely.

The incident occurred while TEACH network officials were in Las Vegas, but they never came to campus, Moore said.

Classes were canceled and police responded to campus.

On Sept. 19, one of the network officials asked her to go off campus for a meeting. Moore said she and the administrator went to a Starbucks and he drove.

Moore said the administrator told her there were 27 complaints against her and that if she quit, she could use him as a reference and he’d give her a glowing recommendation.

But the administrator told her if she stayed, the matter would go before the school board, Moore recalled.

After that, “every day, something was happening,” Moore said.

One day, the school’s food vendor didn’t provide food, she said. Another time, there were 55 voice messages left on the school’s phone because no one was answering.

Moore sent in her letter of resignation Sept. 28 and her last day on campus was Oct. 4.

School board meeting

Parents were beginning to ask what was going on, Moore said.

On Sept. 29, Moore was told that about 20 parents were in the lunchroom in support of her and wanted to talk.

Moore said she went in and told them she didn’t know what was happening or where the complaints were coming from.

The parent who she said had been talking with other parents about Moore was involved in a physical altercation with another parent, and police were called, Moore said. By the time they arrived, the parent was gone.

At 1:30 p.m. that day, the school board called an emergency board meeting for 3:30 p.m., Moore said.

More than 200 parents attended the emergency meeting, which lasted for more than five hours.

Moore said many parents spoke in support of her and only five, including two who she said had no children at the school, spoke against her.

The board voted to not accept her resignation, Moore said. Minutes or a recording from the meeting aren’t posted on the school’s website.

She said a meeting was supposed to be scheduled with her following the school board vote, but no one reached out.

Moore said threatening posts toward her were made on Facebook and that her staff shared them with her because she’s not on the social media site. She said she was done after that.

Classes canceled

Moore’s last day on campus was Oct. 4. The following day, classes were abruptly canceled for a couple of days, combined with a weekend and another two days students were already scheduled to have off.

The parent who had been talking with other parents was celebrating Moore’s resignation and there was a disturbance in the car line, Moore said, and the police showed up.

Las Vegas police responded to two disturbances at the school during pickup that morning, police spokesman Luis Vidal told the Review-Journal last month. No one was detained or arrested.

The school issued a letter Oct. 10 to parents saying the campus would reopen the following day.

Network CEO Raul Carranza temporarily relocated to Las Vegas to be the school’s interim director, the letter states.

The same day the letter was issued, the Las Vegas Planning Commission had an item on its agenda to consider a school expansion request for TEACH Las Vegas, but the applicant — listed as Red Hook Rancho — requested postponing until the Dec. 12 meeting.

The school wanted to add a two-story high school building, six modular buildings and outdoor recreation areas to its existing campus.

During an Oct. 17 school board meeting, Carranza said that 218 children were in class that day and a total of 247 were enrolled.

It’s unclear how many students are currently enrolled.

The aftermath

TEACH Las Vegas’ school board is scheduled to consider an agenda item Monday about paying the outstanding public employee retirement liability.

Moore said on Oct. 30 that she wasn’t a signer on the school’s account and could only deposit checks.

She said that she’s unsure what’s next for her and that she worries about her former students — especially those who may not thrive at a different school.

“I think about those kids.”

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on X.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.