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CCSD drops plan to place struggling charter schools in receivership

Updated July 3, 2019 - 10:26 am

Two underperforming charter schools sponsored by the Clark County School District will not be placed into receivership, a move unanimously approved by the School Board early this year.

Instead, Delta Academy and the 100 Academy of Excellence, both in North Las Vegas, will be subject to new measures aimed at boosting academic performance, details of which have yet to be revealed.

The shift comes just months after the board voted to dissolve the schools’ governing boards and place them under the leadership of a court-appointed receiver after they landed on the state’s 2018 Rising Star list of underperforming schools..

Faced with protests from leaders at both schools and litigation from one, the district is dropping the receivership option, according to officials with the district and at both schools. It also will reorganize the schools’ leadership boards rather than dissolve them.

“It means stability for us,” Kyle Konold, superintendent of Delta Academy, said of the district’s decision.

Academic performance

Delta Academy, a middle and high school that offers a mix of online and in-person classes, has a one-star high school on the state’s list of underperforming schools, with a graduation rate below 67 percent. Its middle school has a two-star rating.

100 Academy, which serves a majority African-American population in elementary and middle grades on the Historic Westside, has a one-star elementary school on the underperforming schools list and a two-star middle school.

Putting the schools into receivership and reconstituting their boards were among a few options the school district has to improve underperforming charter schools.

But after Delta asked a District Court to review the School Board’s decision, the district reached a settlement that took receivership off the table for Delta, which it will also do for 100 Academy.

The district said in a statement that it felt reconstitution and working toward student achievement was the best way to lift the schools.

But the district, which has criticized charter initiatives like the Achievement School District, did not respond directly when asked if it is failing to hold its own charter schools accountable.

“Charter schools are bound by the contracts negotiated by both parties,” a spokeswoman for the district said in a written statement.

Academic expectations for these two schools are unclear at this point. The district said that the goal is for both to reach three stars or make gains toward that status in a “reasonable time.” The district also did not provide the full settlement agreement with Delta Academy.

State law allows the district to replace no more than 40 percent of a charter school’s current board members.

But Delta, which hashed out a settlement with the district that the School Board approved last week, will have five of its seven new board members chosen by the district, according to Konold.

Eliminating receivership helped stabilize the school’s staff, many of whom were looking for new jobs after the announcement of a receiver coming in to run the school, Konold said.

‘Positive partnership’

“We look forward to a positive partnership moving forward,” he said. “This did not negatively impact our relationship with our sponsor (CCSD).”

Like many online charters, Delta serves students who may have struggled in a traditional school, Konold noted.

Delta eventually plans to move its high school to the alternative performance framework, which provides different ratings for schools that primarily serve behavioral, credit-deficient or special needs students.

Konold also points to the middle school’s improvement in math proficiency scores from the 2017 to 2018 ratings.

Leaders at 100 Academy, meanwhile, are acknowledging their need for improvement.

Bolstered by an increase in its 2017 star ratings, the school shifted gears to build its science program instead of continuing to focus on math and English scores, school leaders said.

“It was an awakening for us in terms of our approach to this,” said Eric Leufroy, chairman of the school’s board of directors. “That you can’t take your eye off the ball. You have to be diligent in other areas — in all of the areas.”

But the school has expressed concerns with how the accountability process rolled out. The district never communicated to school leaders that 100 Academy must be a three-star school by 2018, Leufroy said. Instead, the school was working on a five-year plan with the goal of reaching three stars by 2020.

The district countered in its statement that expectations were clearly communicated in law, by the district and through the charter school’s contract.

Rainbow Dreams Academy

Meanwhile, the district is still working on a remediation plan for Rainbow Dreams Academy — another charter school on the Historic Westside with a one-star elementary school that landed it on the Rising Stars list.

Remediation is an option for schools that are on the list for the first time.

The district did not offer details on the remediation plan, which will be instituted the upcoming school year.

A woman that answered the school’s phone number said that the school’s chancellor and principal no longer work there, and provided a Phalen Academies email address for a new school leader.

Phalen Leadership Academies is a nonprofit that assists with turning around underperforming schools.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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