On the agenda of last night’s monthly meeting of the DC Public Charter School Board was a public hearing regarding a proposed charter amendment for the Latin American Youth Center Career Academy Public Charter School to move into a new facility. During testimony from the school’s representatives it was revealed that the charter lost its lease due to its landlord’s uncertainty as to whether the school would continue to exist as it faced five months of discussion over charter revocation. You will remember that in May the board finally decided to end its drive to close the school, a process that in retrospect never should have been initiated.
But the loss of a facility is not the only fallout from the board’s action. Members of LAYCCA also indicated that the threat to shutter the charter also resulted in the departure of students and staff. The school has now hired a recruitment specialist to get its enrollment back up to its 200 pupil level.
The identification and securing of facilities is the greatest problem facing charters in the nation’s capital and across the country. The issue has forced schools to locate in church basements, warehouses, and storefronts. Fortunately for LAYCCA it will be able to move only two blocks into the same dilapidated building on 16th Street, N.W. in Columbia Heights that once housed Mundo Verde PCS and D.C. International PCS.
Do you think the PCSB apologized for all of the trouble that it has put this school through unnecessarily? Not a contrite word was uttered. The members only asked questions such as the one from Rick Cruz, the only board member to vote against LAYCCA in May, who asked about the progress of the $500,000 CityBridge Breakthrough Schools grant. The school indicated it has recently issued a request for proposal to assist with fulfilling the goals of the award.
The relocation was of course approved and the people from LAYCCA were once again the epitome of professionalism as they were from last winter through the spring as their future was being decided. From an earlier post about the schools:
“The Youth Center is serving adult students with an average education on a sixth grade level. This is the average. Almost all of those enrolled have faced tremendous obstacles throughout their lives from drug addiction, homelessness, poverty, and incarceration. Needless to say, these are not individuals from typical two-parent households. Then what this school does, and I have no idea how they do this, is they take these disadvantaged people and put them back together. The charter demonstrated that many attendees are able to gain years of learning under their watch. As was stated yesterday evening, Frederick Douglass remarked that, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” But somehow, in consistent irrefutable evidence presented by the staff and the board of directors, fixing broken human beings is exactly what this charter is accomplishing.”
Yesterday was also the final board meeting for PCSB member Sara Mead as her term is up after eight years of volunteer service. She will be missed as she consistently provided a rational and thoughtful voice, especially in her specialty area of early childhood education.