American Preparatory Academy will open a second campus in southwest Las Vegas to meet growing demand.
The public, tuition-free charter school held a groundbreaking ceremony Feb. 6.
The school, slated to open this fall, will accommodate up to 650 students in kindergarten through sixth grades. The campus is on Patrick Lane — on the same street as the existing school. The school wasn’t able to provide an estimated cost for the project by the Review-Journal’s deadline.
School officials say they’re building a second campus to accommodate more interested families, since more than 2,500 students are on a waiting list.
“Our waitlist is definitely heavily elementary,” school administrator Rachelle Hulet told the Review-Journal on Feb. 13 during a tour of the existing campus.
American Preparatory Academy — which originated in Utah in 2003 — has campuses in Utah; Zambia, Africa; and Las Vegas. The existing Las Vegas campus opened in 2014 and now, nearly 1,700 students are enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grades.
The school offers a classical model of education under which teachers provide direct instruction to students and desks are in rows facing the front of the classroom, Hulet said. There’s one paraprofessional for every classroom in kindergarten through sixth grades. And students learn cursive and Latin.
Hulet — who has five children of her own — was instrumental in bringing American Preparatory Academy to Las Vegas. Her aunt, Carolyn Sharette, is a founder of the Utah-based school system and is the executive director of American Preparatory Schools. And Sharette’s sister, Laura Campbell, is also a co-founder.
The school system has faced controversy.
Sharette came under fire in 2018 after her social media posts criticized illegal immigration.
As for the Las Vegas school, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association was slated to consider its athletics status in March 2019. But the motion was tabled indefinitely during a meeting due to concerns about the school and its affiliation with Dave Bliss.
Bliss is a former college coach and subject of a Showtime documentary, “Disgraced,” about the 2003 murder of Baylor University basketball player Patrick Dennehy by a teammate.
Hulet confirmed Bliss is athletic director for the Las Vegas school. Employment contracts for next school year haven’t yet been determined, she said.
In January, Utah education officials said they’ll audit American Preparatory Academy over its reporting of special education funding, The Associated Press reported Jan. 28.
The academy’s special education expenditures were not properly documented, officials said. The Utah Board of Education said the audit will attempt to determine whether there needs to be a partial or full repayment of more than $4 million in funding.
The school system denied any misappropriation or fraud.
American Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas groups first- through third-grade students by ability level — rather than grade level — for instruction in reading and math. When students enroll, they take a placement exam.
On Feb. 13, first-grade teacher Nicole Doney was leading a mixed-grade group with advanced readers. Three words — plus whether they’re a noun or verb, and a definition — were written on a whiteboard. One of the words was bartering, a verb, which means making deals.
In the hallways during the reading time, you can hear children repeating words and definitions after their teacher.
At the school, students learn cursive — something not required under Common Core standards adopted by more than 40 U.S. states for public schools.
But “if you learn how to write cursive, you’ll learn how to read cursive,” Hulet said, adding it also helps students transpose letters.
Teenagers take two years of Latin — the only language offered at the school.
The school has a character-development program, under which students focus on one character trait each month. Seventh-through 12th-graders take a character development class.
Seventh- through ninth-graders take a social dance class. “A lot of it is learning etiquette,” Hulet said.
At the end of the year, the school holds a five-course meal at which those students demonstrate their etiquette skills and follow social cues. Then, they participate in a dance.
Schoolwide, each grade level has a community service focus. And the school offers after-school activities such as athletics, cheer and dance, National Honor Society and clubs.
Students wear uniforms, Hulet said, which are “kind of a nice equalizer with kids.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
American Preparatory Academy is at 8377 W. Patrick Lane in southwest Las Vegas. For information, contact the school at 702-970-6800 or vegas.americanprep.org.
The new campus will be at 7077 W. Patrick Lane.