After months of review, the State Board of Education, under Education Secretary Mark Murphy’s recommendation, voted to revoke the charter of Pencader Business and Charter School in New Castle.
This is the fourth time the school was under review for mismanagement and low academic performance.
“The accountability committee has determined the school has failed to comply with its charter and satisfying its operation of the school the criteria set fourth in the charter law,” said Murphy during today’s monthly board meeting.
Murphy said the school failed to meet four crucial criteria including government and administration, goals and educational objectives, educational programs and student performance and administrative and financial operations.
Last November the school welcomed six new board members including new board president Frank McIntosh. They also recently added respected educator Frank Hagan as assistant school leader.
The previous board had been blamed for the mismanagement of the school and McIntosh said he was hoping the state would give the new board a chance to work out the issues.
“I thought we presented a very bright future and I don’t think they paid as much attention to that as I had hoped that they would have,” he said following the state’s decision. “We put together a very strong board made up of people who have been successful all of their life and willingly agreed to take part in this and dig in their heels and make this a great school.”
Secretary Murphy said the state just didn’t see a strong enough plan in place to give the school another year.
“It was good to see a stronger board clearly in place these last couple of months but when we look at all the challenges the school is facing, the school did not articulate a clear plan and did not adequately address those challenges and at the end of the day its all about our children and how we provide the best educational opportunities for them,” he said. “Just because we have really strong board members does not mean that we have an educational plan in place to meet the needs of all of our students.”
What’s next for the students?
With no charter, Pencader will close at the end of this academic year leaving more than 400 students to find a new place to attend school.
The state's choice program, which allows students to pick which school they want to attend, has officially closed for next school year however, Murphy said there is a ‘good cause’ clause that will allow an exception for Pencader students.
“We will be able to open that up to those students,” he said. “Additionally, beyond that, we’re going to hold a meeting with the parents at Pencader and make sure that they have all the information that they need to navigate that process.”
The department is also in the process of reaching out to all of the district superintendents in the surrounding districts as well as the other charter schools in the area to make sure that they open their resources to displaced students.