By DAVID BOYLE
At the April 3 school board meeting the board supported Superintendent Jharett Bryantt’s recommendation to revoke the charter of Family Partnership Charter School and transition it to a correspondence school.
After hours of testimony by parents and Family Partnership Charter School students, the board voted 6-1 to revoke the charter. Only board member, Dave Donley, voted against the recommendation.
One testifier noted that Superintendent Bryantt’s answers to the school district’s frequently asked questions required trust between the district and the Anchorage community. The superintendent stated that the curriculum would remain the same; the student allotments would remain the same; the principal, dean of students and business manager would stay in place and; the funds ($4.2 million) would remain with Family Partnership Charter School.
But can the Family Partnership Charter School parents and students trust the district to keep these promises?
Board member Carl Jacobs offered an amendment to the superintendent’s recommendation that would ensure the following:
- All Family Partnership Charter School funds would remain in an account to be only used for Family Partnership Charter School expenses and the Anchorage School District will not use any savings from Family Partnership Charter School funds for unrelated expenses.
- The current parental freedom of choice regarding curriculum will remain intact.
- There will be no change to student allotments, including the yearly rollover of unused allotments.
The board vote on this amendment was unanimous. The district has now committed to keep the same rules for the Family Partnership Charter School as it had before. The only difference was that the Academic Policy Committee, the Family Partnership Charter School board, has been dissolved and the school comes under the Anchorage School District Board.
In an attempt to keep the Family Partnership Charter School charter, Donley offered an amendment that would change membership of the APC to improve its function. He wanted to restrict membership so that no relatives could be members, student members could not vote, and there could be no school staff relative on the Academic Policy Committee.
Dr. Bryantt responded to the amendment by stating that the Academic Policy Committee was very dysfunctional. He said in a past meeting that only one APC board member could even vote on the principal’s evaluation due to several conflicts of interest.
The board voted down this recommendation by a vote of 6-1. Only Donley dissented.
Donley’s final motion was to table the effort to revoke the Family Partnership Charter School charter. He wanted the school to have more time to resolve its problems. Member Kelly Lessens believed that the root cause of the problem could not be resolved after having watched two years of the Academic Policy Committee meetings on YouTube.
This motion failed by a vote of 2-5, with members Donley and Andy Holleman voting to give the school more time to fix its problems.
After many hours of testimony and discussion the board voted to revoke the charter of the Family Partnership Charter School.
The result of revoking the charter may cause many parents to remove their children from the district which will result in lost state, local and federal dollars for the district.
These parents want the best education for their children. And they want to tailor their children’s education so they can succeed in life.
At the end of the meeting, Dr. Bryantt twice used the word “trust” to define the board’s decision. Trust us he said. Trust us.
But we remember when the district said it was going to close 6 brick-and-mortar schools. Now it is not going to close any of these schools.
Everyone will be watching to see if the superintendent and the board will keep their word and for how long.
David Boyle is the Must Read Alaska education writer.