SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio Independent School District voted Monday night to approve a contract that allows the district to partner with a New York-based charter school network to operate one of its lowest-performing schools.
SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez said the partnership with Democracy Prep Public Schools will allow the district to turn around Stewart Elementary School and keep the school open.
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Martinez said Stewart Elementary has not met state accountability standards for five consecutive years, and under state regulations, the Texas Education Agency commissioner is required to either close the school or appoint a board of managers to take it over.
Martinez said the district believes Democracy Prep is the district's best option because it has a good track record of helping schools in a similar situation.
"Parents expect us as the experts, and that's what they consider us, the experts, to intervene when we need to," Martinez said. "What they want to know is, 'Can my child still go that school? Is it going to be a safe and high-quality program?' That's what they want to know."
San Antonio Alliance, a group of teachers, parents and community members, rallied ahead of Monday's meeting, citing concerns about the proposed 10-year contract. The group also said there was no transparency about the proposal.
"We're worried about what this contract actually says," said Luke Amphlett, of San Antonio Alliance. "It doesn't just hand over Stewart Elementary, it hands over K through high school -- 2,400 students --
to a charter company from New York. That's far more than what is necessary."
Now that the contract is approved, the charter network will make a trip to San Antonio to meet with parents as early as this week.
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