By DAVID BOYLE
After being misled by Anchorage School Superintendent Jarrett Bryantt about the future of the most successful school in the district, Dr. Jessica Parker has resigned as principal of the Family Partnership Correspondence School.
Her resignation resulted from several months of being beaten down by the Anchorage School District administration.
It’s a complicated story that began when the school district decided to pull the charter from the school and take it over, converting it to a correspondence school. The administration then decided to change the rules of the game to benefit the district financially, while disrupting students’ education.
Dr. Parker said she had had enough and tendered her resignation. Her last day will be Aug. 25.
Parker said, “It feels free!”
She told MRAK she was “disappointed in the changes made in the private school decision by the district.”
Due to the district’s unique and new interpretations of the law and the Alaska Constitution, the Anchorage School District only allows a student to be part-time at a private school to receive state funding. If the student is full-time at a private school, the parent loses all the allotment funding. This makes it costly for parents to choose full-time private school education and has the effect of forcing less wealthy students back into the failing public schools in Anchorage, where proficiency scores are shocking.
The district still counts full-time private school students in its daily attendance count which it sends to the state. And the state still funds the district for that student, who is not attending public school.
Parker will work as the superintendent of the Mountain City Christian Academy, formerly the Anchorage Christian School. She feels that she has the freedom to work with an organization that aligns with her values and can help all students excel in their studies.
As a result of the actions of Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt, the FPCS has lost nearly 600 students of the 1,750 students who were enrolled last year. Another 200 students’ parents are waiting for a decision from the ASD administration to hear about the yearly rollover of their allotment dollars.
Parents have banked thousands of dollars into these rollover allotment accounts so they can help their children get more costly courses when they get to high school.
But the Anchorage School District apparently doesn’t want to communicate with any of the parents. Parents have asked the ASD questions but have received no responses, Must Read Alaska has learned.
The Family Partnership Correspondence School has gone from the charter school with the best private school policy to what some argue is the worst correspondence school.
There is some good news: FPCS parents can enroll their children in the MatSu Central Charter School and the Raven Correspondence School and still receive non-sectarian classes in private schools.
More than 600 additional enrollments appear to be occurring in that program that is run under the neighboring community’s school policy, which honors the allotment that students are awarded by state law, unlike the Anchorage School District. Full enrollment numbers won’t be known until late September and the final attendance numbers are reported out in October.
The Anchorage School District broke its promise to parents, students, and the Anchorage community. In a letter in April, Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt wrote, “Above all, I want you and FPCS to be successful. Your school offers something special and unique to Anchorage. Dissolving the Academic Policy Committee was an unfortunate but necessary step to double down on student outcomes and learning as our focus.”
It appears Bryantt is instead doubling down on taking the parents’ allotment money.
David Boyle is the education writer for Must Read Alaska.