DC Public Charter Board votes to revoke charter of Latin American Youth Center Career Academy PCS

At last night’s monthly meeting of the DC Public Charter School Board the body voted five to two to begin revocation proceedings against the Latin American Youth Center Career Academy PCS.  It has been a long road for this school in reaching this point and my feeling is that this story is far from over.

As you may recall the board first brought up the subject of charter revocation regarding LAYCCA last January as part of its five-year review.  However, due to the challenge to the PCSB’s findings by the school’s legal representative, attorney Stephen Marcus, the PCSB voted to delay its decision to the following month.  Then in February it again postponed a decision on this matter until the March meeting that occurred last evening.

A couple of points here.  I could not attend the session in person yesterday so this morning I tried to watch it online.  However, the video is for some reason only showing small portions of the proceedings.  Also, in the past I could depend on actions of the board being shared on Twitter but this practice seems to have stopped.

In any case, in one of the most carefully documented findings I have ever observed by the PCSB, the board found that “after reviewing all evidence submitted by the school and reassessing each goal using the business rules above, DC PCSB staff has determined that, of its seven academic goals, LAYCCA PCS met one goal, partially met one goal, and did not meet five goals. Based on the school’s failure to meet its goals and student academic achievement expectations, DC PCSB staff recommends that the DC PCSB Board revoke the school’s charter effective June 30, 2017.”  This is little changed from the board’s conclusion in January that the charter partially met two goals and did not meet five.

There are a couple of things that made this scenario different from other votes to shutter a school.  First is the unusual outpouring of strong support for LAYCCA.  Contained in the meeting materials are letters backing the school and making arguments against charter revocation from Maggie Riden, executive director of the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates; Brandon Todd, Ward 4 Councilmember; Brianne Nadeau, Ward 1 Councilmember; and Jack McCarthy, president and CEO of AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation.  There is even one from Mieka Wick, newly named CEO of CityBridge Education, addressing the $50,000 initial planning grant and “suite of supports” of up to $500,000 the school won through the Breakthrough Schools:  DC Challenge.  Ms. Wick writes:

“The LAYC Career Academy proposal was reviewed by our staff and a panel of local and national subject matter experts.  We are excited about the potential of LAYC Career Academy to demonstrate the design principles of personalized learning, intentional equity, and expansive measures of success.”

So here is why I don’t believe we are through talking about the future of LAYCCA.  The PCSB has listed five conditions that the school must meet if the board fails to vote to close it this summer.  Almost all of the deadlines are in April and May of this year.  Therefore, while the revocation process is occurring the school could and should continue to meet these criteria for continuing to operate.

Let’s sincerely hope that a suitable solution can be found for a charter that heroically serves adult students that are disadvantaged by the effects of homelessness, poverty, and incarceration.

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