Parents overwhelm Anchorage School Board to oppose takeover of Family Partnership Charter School

46
4144

By DAVID BOYLE

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected.

Although the Anchorage School Board is not set to vote until April 3 on the school superintendent’s recommendation to shut down Family Partnership Charter School, parents were given a three-day notice during a spring break weekend last week that their charter school was being set for closure by the new superintendent from Houston, Texas. 

More than 60 parents showed up on short notice to tell the school board board not to kick their kids to the curb by destroying the program that provides customized education and some of the best learning environment in the Anchorage School District.

The board members listened but it wasn’t clear if they heard the parents.  It was clear from the superintendent’s closing comments his mind was already made up. 

The district notified Family Partnership last Friday at 4 pm that Bryantt planned to revoke the school’s charter and change it to a correspondence school. After the spring break weekend, the board heard parents’ testimony.

Family Partnership started 25 years ago, and is the largest school in the district, with more than 1,700 students.  

The school educates its students for nearly $7,000 per student less than the school district’s other campuses.

Some testified that the district held multiple townhalls when it proposed to close six schools yet never held a townhall to allow the public to comment on the shutting down of Family Partnership.

A Family Partnership teacher stated that the principal had coordinated with the superintendent on the closure letter.  Another parent said that the principal was notified of the closure four days before the parents were notified.  The principal was not present at the meeting of the school board and parents.

Most parents spoke of the ability to customize their child’s education so their kids could actually learn and excel.  

One parent said that her soft-spoken son was not doing well in the brick-and-mortar neighborhood schools. After he enrolled in the Family Partnership Charter School, his reading score went from 57% to 91% proficiency; his math scores went from 57% to 88% proficiency.

Another teacher with 23 years in the district who adopted a foster child said her child was failing in the neighborhood schools and other ASD special schools.  After he enrolled in Family Partnership as a middle schooler, he excelled. He is now in high school and reads at the 98% proficiency level and is 95% proficient in math.

“This school is a great fit for this unique child,” she said.

Most parents wanted just to educate their children in the way they choose. 

Karen Owens noted that Family Partnership has more than 450 students applying for only 100 openings in the lottery for next school year.  “We are a shining star,” she said.  Meanwhile, the Anchorage School District’s brick-and-mortar track record is failing, by most standards.  

These parents see no other school district option for their children. Most parents testified that if Family Partnership loses its charter, they will remove their children from the district and enroll them in any other non-district program, including the IDEA state-wide correspondence program.

Another parent spoke to the superintendent’s focus on “inclusion.”  She said, “Dr. Bryant, we are on the same page when it comes to inclusion. Our children have chosen Family Partnership Charter School as their mode of education. Taking away this charter will actually exclude these students from their choice of education.”

At the end of the parent testimony, Bryantt stated he heard what the parents said. He tried to persuade the parents that nothing will change.

Bryantt was concerned with “future breaches” either to the charter, the school bylaws, district policy, and state law. He focused on compliance rather than great education outcomes.

The school board seems to be in lockstep with the superintendent’s decision to revoke the charter, even though the district has many failing schools that do comply with the law and school board policy.

One parent asked the superintendent why many failing schools were not being closed even though they complied with district rules.

Bryantt said, “This change will not impact the teachers or students on the student funding allotments…or the freedom to make choices about their curriculum.” 

But when the the school loses its charter and becomes a correspondence school under the thumb of the Anchorage School Board, it must align its curriculum to the district curriculum, per state law.

Bryantt said, “The student allotment will not decrease from what they are today and there are no plans to change that.”  

But today’s student allotment of a minimum $4,200 may go down to the usual correspondence school allotment of $2,000. This will deny low-income parents the right to a better education for their kids.  

Bryantt was more concerned with the dysfunctional Academic Policy Committee, the Family Partnership’s board, than with the outstanding educational outcomes of the students.

Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt’s letter is at this link.

Parents also voiced concern that the district had its eyes on the $4 million fund balance at the school.  Bryantt said there were no plans to take that fund from the school. But many parents warned the district may take the school’s $4 million to fill other budgetary needs.

Bryantt offered no remedial plan of action to assist with getting the school into compliance.  Instead, closing the doors to 1,700 achieving students seemed to be the only option he chose.   

And many of these 1,700 students will, according to parents, be leaving the Anchorage School District for better education choices.

46 COMMENTS

  1. I find it most interesting that the Anchorage school district brought a superintendent in from the liberal cest pool of Austin Texas. It’s no wonder that he wants to shut down the most successful school in the system. By doing that it makes the others schools that are failing not look so bad.

    • I’d find that interesting if it were true, but as this article states, and a quick google check confirms, Superintendent Bryantt was hired out of Houston, Texas. Great reading comprehension! Also, its spelled “cesspool”, champ.

      • No matter how he spells it, this is an abuse of authority!
        No public inopt, afraid of the TRUTH – close a SUCCESSFUL school. And one week before we get to vote out at least one commie.

      • Same problem the Texas School Authority is taking over the Houston school district for failure to improve. So sport, he was right even with the misspelling and geography error. Houston is also a cesspool, look at the school performance numbers and the mayoral judicial news. Have a nice day, Spike

    • And to add insult to all the parents “when the the school loses its charter and becomes a correspondence school under the thumb of the Anchorage School Board, it must align its curriculum to the district curriculum, per state law.”
      Yeaj, make it fail too cause, thats what its all about.
      Fight back, you just got a ballot for school board and assembly! vote for conservatives. Dave Donley and Mark Anthony Cox.

    • Yes but thom Alaska doesn’t have anyone qualified for the position. State is full of ignorant trolls.

      • …and Loren how did this arrogant and erroneous comment bring anything useful to the discussion?? There are a good number of qualified individuals in the state, just none the school board felt were malleable enough for their tastes.

  2. Bryantt’s former gig, Houston Texas SD, is about to be taken over by the Texas department of education. The reason consistently failing schools.

      • Actually very current Greg.
        “Most of Houston’s school board members have been replaced since the state began making moves toward a takeover in 2019, and House became superintendent in 2021. House and the current school board will remain until the new board of managers is chosen sometime after June 1.”
        BYJUAN LOZANO, PAUL J. WEBER AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
        March 15, 2023 at 10:52 AM AKDT
        So this includes the time that Bryantt’s time with the Houston SD.

  3. And now you see why the school board wanted him so badly.

    A devious toad willing to do whatever in order to remove competition from the failing school system.

    • Its insanity, doing the same thing and expecting different results…
      Vote in the assembly members that want to further destroy the city (they are making it as painful and divisive to live here as possible). You can recognize them by their causes not their merits (actual and successful people volunteer their extra time to their local neighborhoods mostly, otherwise they are working and paying bills and raising families).
      Stop voting in felix, meg, and constant!

  4. It is all about the money, it is always all about the money. This jerk has no business being paid by taxpayers to destroy the lives of families. This is all about the people getting a better result for less money and the $4 million is just too big a carrot for this career, ineffective bureaucrat and his cronies to ignore. It is not about the kids, it is about control. Anyone that was paying attention to the hiring process that put this idiot in place is aware that it is all about controlling the money.

  5. Headline is not accurate.
    It should say “Parents waste their time talking to a brick wall about takeover of family partnership charter school.”

  6. Houston ISD is a”vibrant” District, read that as largely ghetto. I moved up here from Houston a couple years ago., so I know whereof I speak. The people who could, have mostly fled Houston schools for neighboring districts with much less Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

  7. The LGBTQ superintendent is more concerned about producing homosexual kids for our society than he is about giving them a quality education. Pure scum! Get rid of this one-trick skalliwag.

  8. Failure rewarded, success punished. The NEA hates schools that showcase the public school indoctrination centers incompetence. They are always attacking any alternate choice. ” Insanity doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome.”

  9. Can anyone tell me what provision exists, if any, for the public to recall a sitting ASD superintendent? (The ASD board is not going to do it.)

    Did his contract have a golden parachute provision that will trigger a big payment if he’s fired.

  10. I am a parent of 3 former students with FPCS spanning ~15 years. I and my wife have been on the APC board for 8 of those 15 years ending in 2018. And I currently am a vendor/ teacher using FPCS as a “base of operations” for classes which I have offered for the last 11 years. I know the power of school choice and this decision reeks of an overzealous superintendent trying to get more control of parents educational choices by silencing a Charter school who has done a great job at putting the parent front & center for their students education.

    Is there room for improvement on how some of the APC decisions were handled? Yes. Is there reason to look at why the APC board did what they did? Yes. BUT to revoke the Charter of one of the best Charter Schools in Anchorage simply to rein in a board’s willingness to increase parents school choice decisions is defeating the purpose of parent centered education.

    Unless, Mr Superintendent, it is your plan all along to stop anything that encourages parent authorized education and replaces it with School Board only educational choices. Look at the learning stats which compares FPCS students to regular ASD students. I concur with many voices I have read here. You do this and many students and families will surely seek out other educational options outside of ASD. Thus reducing even more the student population within ASD and reducing the limited funds available. Do you really want to risk that??

  11. Anchorage citizens have relinquish control over their city and schools to the liberal leftists. You don’t get involved in local politics, this is what happens…

    • There is nothing liberal about them. They are collectivist totalitarians who are your enemy. They want to see you dead, in jail, or bankrupt. At every opportunity we need to push back on these people and tell them they are unwelcome here in Alaska- as they do to us. We need to move on these people with the same ruthlessness they move on us. This is war. ” You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”

  12. KeepIn mind that Houston is the home of Sheila Jackson-Lee, who is very much like Mary Sattler(Peltola). Just as awful, and plays tribal politics in the same way. Grift, Graft and corruption.. Vote buying!

  13. When are Anchorage parents going to get it. These clowns do not want to educate your children they want to indoctrinate them, sexualize them and leave them open to predators. For those of us who are now retired from ASD well know how many male teachers were having sex with students. In my school there were 3 of them and guess what ,they all retired with full benefits instead of going to jail. The legislature enacted a new law to protect one of them.Parents are smart enough. Pressure the Governor to give you the money to enroll you kids in a decent school. Anchorage used to have the very best educators and there are plenty still here but we will remain at number 49 in Math and Reading if parents do not take control. They do not care about your kids, get it, got it, good. It is about Power and control.

  14. The one thing I find very interesting is how Mr. Bryantt was ,according to the article, able to unilaterally take over the lease of the building AND abscond with the financial records of the school. Would he as the superintendent have the right to view and access them, sure, but to seize them entirely seems very fishy. Hope the FPCS have a good pool of parent lawyers, who can establish the legal aspects here and prevent the ASD and especially Mr. Bryantt running roughshod over them.
    If the FPCS board and administration were truly the problem, it would be address in a completely different manner. This looks more like a hostile take-over.

    • And he performed these actions prior to a vote, is that legal? A technicality of his honesty and trustworthiness from a parents perspective, maybe even 4,700 students and their parents would be interessted to hear about his deception.
      A lie of omission in the commission of treacherous behaviour.

      • I can 100% say the “seizing” mentioned in this article didn’t happen. The asd negotiates all leases with all of its entities, and with every charter school. This lease was in the asds hands when it was renegotiated it last year. Fake news

  15. Did you state in your previous column that the school board meeting was on Monday? Did they change that back now that Eugene Haberman is no longer around?

    • The ASD had this on its agenda for the school board meeting on March 20th. The Family Partnership Charter School was notified of the meeting agenda at 4pm on the previous Friday–after business hours. The ASD board meets to decide if the school will be “transition” the school from a charter school to a correspondence school on April 3. But it definitely seems as if Superintendent Bryantt has made his decision and implemented that decision without the approval of some board members.

  16. We are waiting for reimbursement from Family partnership. 2 and 1/2 months.
    Found it’s paid through the school district. The intent is noticed.

  17. Parents of children attending Family Partnership Charter School…..this is all your fault…you did more than want and hope your child got an education. Notice…what the understudy Superintendent stated…

    “But when the the school loses its charter and becomes a correspondence school under the thumb of the Anchorage School Board, it must align its curriculum to the district curriculum, per state law.”

    He bluntly revealed that the school is losing it charter because it IS EDUCATING the children…. Well, that has to stop right now!

  18. “Parents overwhelm” and it still won’t make a damn bit of difference!!! Screw dunleavy!!!

    • Dave, I surmise that you are not a fan of the governor, but in this instance, I can not follow your logic. This is the ASD board’s doing. While I agree that the department of education could take more of a hands on role, there really isn’t anything the state can do. It is in essence an organizational issue within the district. The one thing I could see, is creating independent charter schools, that are not part of a school district and receive funds directly from the department of education. Maybe such an idea would also solve the voucher issue, as in that instance the money would follow the child.

  19. Jharrett Bryantt is overpaid and underqualified. Less than one year into his contract and destroying anything still functional. How’d that work for Houston?

  20. The Anchorage super is just doing what other superintendents like the one at Alaska Gateway has been doing for a long time, killing off the state correspondence programs. Their belief is they can force the correspondence kids into regular school where they get a lot more money for each kid.The AGSD superintendent has successfully pulled every dirty trick in the book, from hiring a principal who actively sabotages everything, to personally changing kids grades in order to prevent them from graduating, to the latest, charge, fine, the correspondence kids up to $750 to participate in school activities. The state nixed the fining the correspondence kids for extra curricular activities but the super changes the price and resubmits it, his pals on the board repass it and they try again, fully aware it’s illegal.

  21. Mafia backed Holleman’s seat is up for grabs on the school board. Now is an opportunity to slow this train wreck! Doubtful Mr Cox has the resources it takes to upset a big Union supporter but we are giving it our best shot in spite of all the money pouring into Andy’s pocket in exchange for his vote to sole sourcing ASD projects to Union contractors which ends up costing property taxpayers more due to less competition and shoddy work from SOME union workers who dont have to perform because they know the union has their lazy butts covered. Time to get rid of Bellamy as well. She belongs in the SF “bidet by the bay” school district where they welcome her queer agenda.

  22. I have asked legislators to look into a charter school through the state. I helped in getting that bill through many years ago and may be the answer.

  23. Please, please call the 7 voting board members. Fill up their voice mail with concerns.
    School Board Number: 907-742-1101
    Margo Bellamy ext. 7
    Kelly Lessens ext. 2
    Andy Holleman ext. 1
    Pat Higgins ext. 3
    Dora Wilson ext. 4
    Carl Jacobs ext. 5

  24. There has been the ability of to form a charter through the state for many years. When the law was written it allowed for both charters within districts or a charter through the state. Just has never been used much through the state.

Comments are closed.