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5 SA charter schools identified for mandatory revocation

TEA: Schools failed to meet academic, financial accountability performance ratings

SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Education Agency notified 14 open-enrollment charter schools Tuesday that they are recommending their charters be revoked five of those schools are located in San Antonio.

Under Senate Bill 2, which was passed last year, the state requires mandatory revocation of a charter if the holder fails to meet academic and financial performance ratings for three consecutive years.

The five local schools recommended for mandatory revocation are:

  • Academy of Careers and Technologies Charter School
  • City Center Health Careers
  • Henry Ford Academy Alameda School for Art and Design
  • Higgs, Carter, King Gifted and Talented Charter Academy
  • San Antonio Technology Academy

Susana Errisuriz said she has been pleased with the education her daughter is getting at San Antonio Technology Academy and was surprised to learn the TEA is recommending the school's charter be revoked.

"I really like this school a lot because her grades are really good right now," Errisuriz said. "It's been helping her a lot in her school and everything so it's going to be a big difference for her to go back to a public school."

Dr. Ben Johnson, the principal at San Antonio Technology Academy,  said the school has passed the academic requirements but failed to meet the financial ratings.

"Our scores last year were very good," Johnson said. "In our situation it's a question of numbers, getting more students."

Johnson was hired in October to get things back on track at the school he helped open back in 2001.

He said since he came back enrollment has steadily climbed from 50 to 75 students.

"Apparently there were some lapses where they weren't advertising and they weren't being aggressive about getting students," Johnson said. "We're turning that around."

Johnson has until Jan. 12 to appeal the decision, which he plans to do. He hopes the new administration and a recent grant will help sway the state to let them stay open.

"We're in it for the long haul," Johnson said. "I'm pretty confident we'll get the state to see we're turning things around."

Across town it's a similar situation at the Henry Ford Academy Alameda School for Art and Design.

"I believe in this school, we have great kids, we have great parents," said Superintendent Jessica Sanchez. "We don't deserve to close."

Sanchez said they got hit with two strikes for failing to meet academic requirements.

With the help of a state monitor they turned things around.

Then they learned the school failed the financial requirements.

"Our monitor wrote the state, and to TEA that we exceeded expectations on our academics and so we thought we were golden," Sanchez said. "Our problem and our concern is we had clean (financial) audits both years, exact same language in both audits they're referring to -- one year we get above standard and the next year we have an automatic fail based on the exact same language."

Sanchez admits she's worried about how this decision will impact the 160 students who attend the school and the 17 staff members who are employed there, but she promised to fight for them to the bitter end.

"Our kids have been bullied at previous schools, I have kids that have such severe anxiety that didn't go to school for years that are able to come to school here," Sanchez said. "We will fight and fight, and fight because I worry about what happens to the those kids. They need a place like this. They need a really small campus. They need a place they are comfortable in. They need a place they can call home and we provide that for our kids."

The schools will remain open through the end of the school year and a state appointed conservator will oversee things.

So far no schools have won their appeals but Johnson isn't giving up. "We might have a black eye, but we're still in the ring."


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