What happened to Peachtree Hope Charter School in DeKalb?

Anyone know what is happening with Peachtree Hope Charter School?

The Memorial Drive school was approved last year by the now defunct state Charter Schools Commission and was part of the Sabis network of schools. The school had lost its charter because of the recent Supreme Court decision impacting 16 new and existing schools, but had won a year’s lease on life via a vote by the DeKalb Board of Education.

However,  if you go to the school web site today, you will find only this stark note: This is no longer the website for Peachtree Hope Charter School. Please contact (404) 622-2727 for more information.

I called the number and after many rings, a message came on still identifying the school as part of the Minnesota-based SABIS Educational Systems and directing me to the Web site.  I will check Monday to see if  Sabis pulled out because of the state Supreme Court ruling and whether the school plans to try to soldier on as an independent school.

However, Peachtree Hope is not on the list of schools to be considered by the state Board of Education Tuesday so I am unsure of its status or its future.

Peachtree Hope Charter School and the Museum School of Avondale Estates were granted approval for one year by DeKalb school board, but have to go through the formality of state board sanction. The Museum School is on the Tuesday agenda, but Peachtree Hope is not.

Anyone know what is going on?

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

35 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

June 26th, 2011
1:29 pm

Wow, Maureen, this is curious and troubling. I checked the SABIS Website and Peachtree Charter is not listed among their school networks.

Are you really surprised ?

June 26th, 2011
1:44 pm

No doubt you will find many unsettling issues surrounding approval/nonapproval/independent/LEA charters over the next few days and weeks. Don’t take anything at face value. If you ever wanted to be an investigative reporter, now is the time.

Ernest

June 26th, 2011
2:04 pm

Thanks for this heads up Maureen! At the last Board meeting, John Evan and Lonnie King were two people that spoke on behalf of this school. Perhaps they might have some insight.

Jennifer

June 26th, 2011
2:28 pm

None of the charter documents are opening up on e-board either. Yesterday they did. Anyone know what is up with that too ?

mg

June 26th, 2011
2:46 pm

At the last board meeting (June 14), there was an agenda item to grant Peachtree Charter Hope a one year waiver and allow them to stay open while they re-applied to Dekalb for a regular charter. There was a similar item for the Avondale Museum School.

DecaturMom

June 26th, 2011
6:32 pm

If one were to review the initial budgets for the commission schools, this mystery would be solved. The management companies padded the budgets with items that benefitted their companies. If the funding is not available, their apparent “interest” in educating children would not be foremost on their profit making agenda. In all probability, if the money is gone, then there is no reason for them to stick around. I am sure it would be quite easy to investigate these companies and their vested interests in the commission charter schools movement in Georgia. I would love to see a blog about their budgets. My concern, as with other readers, is that my tax money would have been used for these companies.

Write Your Board Members

June 26th, 2011
7:10 pm

Sabis had snow plowing as a line item in their budget. This was, I suppose, because they were a midwestern company and snow plowing was a standard item for their other schools. What is less impressive is that the Charter Commission people didn’t catch it.

atlmom

June 26th, 2011
8:36 pm

decaturmom: as opposed to the more than stellar wonderful budget making that goes on in school systems like APS? where the outcome of students is so wonderful?

Publicola

June 26th, 2011
9:27 pm

@DecaturMom. I’m glad you are concerned about how tax dollars are spent. You should also be concerned with how school systems spend their money. Private companies who know they will be shut down if they don’t perform are generally more careful with their dollars than governmental officials who never get voted out of office no matter how bad their schools perform.

d

June 26th, 2011
9:49 pm

@Publicola — and why do these government officials never get voted out? It seems like a lot of apathy on the part of the voters which means they’re being hypocritical when they complain but don’t vote the politicians out. The main reason I am opposed to term limits for public office is that once someone is in their last term, they can do whatever they want without consequence. If they are constantly trying to fight and campaign for their jobs, we tend to get better results….. unless the voters don’t do their part.

Not what you think

June 26th, 2011
10:01 pm

As I understand it, the local board for Peachtree Hope Charter school (chaired by Lonnie King) decided to end its management agreement with Sabis as of last week. The website for the school was maintained by Sabis, so the local board will now have to develop its own site and it has not done it yet.

It is not on the agenda for this week’s SBOE meeting because it must now develop its own academic plan (one that does not rely on the Sabis model) and be reapproved by DeKalb.

Not what you think

June 26th, 2011
10:01 pm

As I understand it, the local board for Peachtree Hope Charter school (chaired by Lonnie King) decided to end its management agreement with Sabis as of last week. The website for the school was maintained by Sabis, so the local board will now have to develop its own site and it has not done it yet.

It is not on the agenda for this week’s SBOE meeting because it must now develop its own academic plan (one that does not rely on the Sabis model) and be reapproved by DeKalb.

Not what you think

June 26th, 2011
10:03 pm

For more info, I’d suggest you call Mark Peevy at the Commission (he’s the Executive Director)…..I’m guessing that he has the details on what is happening at these schools.

Maureen Downey

June 26th, 2011
10:08 pm

@Not. I received an e-mail from someone from Sabis and will call tomorrow to find out what happened.
Maureen

Maureen Downey

June 26th, 2011
10:09 pm

@Not, I wonder if the school can do all that — get back on the agenda for the county and state boards — and be ready to open in August.
Maureen

Joy Nimitz

June 26th, 2011
11:03 pm

Peachtree Hope Charter School will still be in operation in the Fall of 2011.

Maureen Downey

June 26th, 2011
11:16 pm

@Joy, Under what form will the school open? And when does it plan to return to the DeKalb board for reconsideration?
Maureen

just watching

June 26th, 2011
11:37 pm

See this article from April 2010 about PHC…
http://www.themaroontiger.com/?p=453

From the article…”The school is currently K-5 and a grade will be added each year the school is open until it reaches K-12 status. The Peachtree Hope Charter School is only the beginning of a much larger project. Five more charter schools will be opened in Fulton, Richmond, Bibb and Clayton counties by Fall 2011.”

I don’t see any schools in GA listed on the Sabis website. Guessing the wider network of their charter schools in GA did not materialize and they pulled out. Just a guess though.

Ronin

June 27th, 2011
12:06 am

@Decaturmom: 1.”The management companies padded the budgets with items that benefitted their companies. 2. If the funding is not available, their apparent “interest” in educating children would not be foremost on their profit making agenda. 3.In all probability, if the money is gone, then there is no reason for them to stick around. ” I DO HAVE SOME CONCERNS WITH YOUR STATEMENT.

1. Answer: How in the world do you know that they padded their budget? And without proof, why would you make that statement.
2.Of course these companies would have no “interest” in educating children for free. Try not paying the school principal or teachers at a BOE direct school and see if they show up for work. It’s not gonna happen.
3.Same. if you don’t pay the police officer or private security person, they don’t show up for work either. Broaden your scope to understand how “profit” works.

All service providers to normal BOE schools contract services from outside companies. They charge a fee for their services or product. The service provider CEO or president makes a profit, so does their delivery person, as does the person who made the product. So, it can be the teacher or principal who profits from their labor at a BOE school Or, it can be a teacher or school leader at a charter school and their management company. If the Charter can do a better job for a particular group of kids, great, have at it. If the BOE direct school works for others, that’s great too. The important thing is that each student has a method of learning that works best for them. The governing body of the state should reach a balance to offer an education that best meets the needs of the student.

Above all else, remember this: Education is a business, k-12 and beyond. People and companies profit from the taxpayers money or private tuition. As such, it should be spent and monitored wisely, be it a public charter school, or a BOE direct school.

There have been several interesting Charter related blogs this weekend via the AJC. It made for interesting reading. I don’t have a child in a Charter school and started this topic neutral. However, after reading the many posts by pro charter and anti charter. I would say that the pro charter group has made a far more compelling argument to support their case. Georgia public school rank 48th or 50th in the nation, unless you’re satisfied with that statistic, how could you not embrace alternatives?

To those who have not ready them. Check out Maureen’s other blog from Friday and Jim Galloway from Saturday.

Atlanta Transplant

June 27th, 2011
12:23 am

The school is still open, but will have a new web address and phone number.

Jeff T. - The English Teacher

June 27th, 2011
12:26 am

Maureen I agree with “Not What You Think.” Many for profits companies forget about educating children when high profits or at stakes. Maybe, this will guide you to the light at the end of the tunnel.

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/07/13/nyregion/group-picked-to-run-queens-school-was-ousted-in-chicago.html?pagewanted=2

http://www.mass.gov/ig/publ/sabisirp.pdf

blue_moon

June 27th, 2011
12:35 am

When schools are ‘profit driven’ this is what happens.

blue_moon

June 27th, 2011
12:49 am

If Peachtree Charter has closed that means about 80 teachers are now unemployed and hundreds of students have to find a new school. That’s another reason charters are not the answer because with charters it is always about the money.

Joy Nimitz

June 27th, 2011
12:59 am

@BlueMoon Peachtree Hope is still in operation and plan to open in August.

Charter Supporter

June 27th, 2011
1:27 am

@blue_moon: “…with charters it is always about the money.” What does that even mean? What an ignorant statement. Please learn more about charter schools and then actually visit one, before you go on blogs with asinine comments.

atlmom

June 27th, 2011
3:57 am

blue moon: as opposed to the stellar job being done by all those wonderful school systems nearby? Why do you think parents want charter schools in the first place?

d: re voters voting politicians out: I would love to but most of the time, there is ONE name on the ballot. Part of the problem is ballot access, in the first place, given that the politicians in charge have made it impossible to put someone on there. and the parties are perfectly happy to not put up candidates on the ‘other’ side. they like the ’safe’ districts…

Write Your Board Members

June 27th, 2011
7:14 am

I really hope that Peachtree Hope will retain some semblance of independence and not just become a place were retired employees from the DeKalb School System land. DeKalb Leadership Prep Charter School, housed at New Birth is headed by a principal who was exposed for making teachers change grades.

Wow!

June 27th, 2011
12:15 pm

I am in total awwww about all of this information. I am confused and don’t really kow where to go from here. My child was accepted to this school through a recent lottery drawing. I have missed all deadlines for other school options and my zone school is not an option based on low recent test scores. I am a bit upset that I did not do my research on the court issues this school was facing at the time I applied. Had I had known there was a lawsuit pending, I would not have selected this school. One thing that attracted me to this charter school was that it was a Sabis International school. Although I am not a fan of all grades being based on standerdized tests I was impressed with the curriculum. Now that Sabis is no longer a part of this school what makes tis charter school unique?

Gerald

June 27th, 2011
1:22 pm

In all honesty, there needs to be as much scrutiny as to why so many public school students cannot read or write anywhere near grade level, why so many possess severe disciplinary issues, and why so few children know basic facts of history, arts, science etc. as charter schools receive. Look, these problems are why charter schools exist in the first place.

Now I am not one of those who blames social problems on schools and teachers. However, the fact is that public schools have responded to the social problems that often (but not always!) are behind unsatisfactory school performance with failed “education reforms” and by demanding more money for higher teacher salaries and lower class sizes. Public school advocates made the horrible mistake of pretending to be able to solve social problems by meeting the needs of children that parents and other relatives couldn’t or wouldn’t provide. In doing so, they cast in their lot with the social safety net/social engineering crowd at the expense of their ability to educate children, which (whether the progressive crowd acknowledges it or not) includes the need for all segments of society to generally support public schools.

Most people aren’t going to sacrifice the education of individual children – especially if it is THEIR children – to support some progressive ideal represented by universal public education. They aren’t going to sit on their hands and blame “conservatives” and “fundamentalists” and “backwards people” for “refusing to adequately fund public education” in response to their kids’ receiving an inadequate education, or their kids’ being exposed to an undesirable disciplinary environment. Even “urban” and “minority” parents, who for years put up with this nonsense and kept their kids in horrible schools because civil rights leaders told them “it’s the racist Republicans’ fault for keeping our kids down by not funding our schools at the same level as private and suburban schools, but keep voting for us and we will fix that!” are getting tired of it, and have become the biggest advocates for charter schools.

You folks need to realize that it is either going to be charter schools today or vouchers tomorrow. Right now, the only thing holding back a voucher scheme in Georgia is the fact that Republicans REALLY don’t want it. They’ll campaign on it and take your votes based on it, but they aren’t going to lift a finger to enact it. That’s because most GOPers in this state are actually former Democrats. But keep erecting these barriers to charter schools, and the anti-choice (as in anti-SCHOOL choice) Republicans who used to be Democrats will get voted out and replaced with actual Republicans who WILL implement a broad voucher scheme, and by then there will be enough GOPers on the Georgia Supreme Court to allow such a scheme (the federal Supreme Court has already approved it, probably the last conservative ruling that Sandra Day O’Connor ever participated in).

So, public school advocates, you can either:

A) get serious about dealing with these real discipline and academic performance problems, which means abandoning the last 50 or so years of your “education reforms”

B) stop fighting charter schools

or

C) have vouchers forced upon you.

Of those, A) is the best one, B) is the option that requires the least of you,, and C) would represent a total destruction of your profession, ideology and way of life. Take your pick.

Nikole

June 27th, 2011
2:15 pm

@ Gerald—I agree w/ you on some points, but as a lowly teacher, my opinion is not valued. I have no problem w/ charter schools, but I would like someone to give public schools the same power to tailor mandated curriculum to their own school’s population among other perks afforded some private and charter schools.

d

June 27th, 2011
3:49 pm

@atlmom If I am not mistaken (and I could be), ballot access if you want to run under a party label (r or d) is just a $400 filing fee. It’s getting on the ballot as an independent that is extremely difficult (but not impossible)

Mom4Students

June 28th, 2011
12:39 pm

I recently visited Peachtree Hope and let me tell you the school looks amazing! I was so impressed with the quality of teachers that worked at the school and the atmosphere. I wasn’t surprised when I read this story that they axed SABIS. SABIS is a for-profit management company that has schools all around the world. When you are a CMO or EMO corporation “PROFITS” come first and not education. My child attended a charter school in Texas and their management company only cared about management fees when they managed nothing. The staff members at these schools care more about the children than the company does, and Maureen you should know this. The majority of SABIS’s income seems to comes from the private schools overseas and their flagship school in Minnesota. Hopefully, DeKalb gives this charter another year and realizes that management companies are not all what they’re supposed to be. Maureen should really investigate SABIS’s record at the other schools based on @JeffT’s post. (Chicago, New York, Ohio, and the list goes on…..)

Maureen Downey

June 28th, 2011
1:20 pm

@Mom4, The question is what is going on with the school. Sabis was notified by the school’s attorneys on June 3 — I have now seen the notification — that the contract was being terminated. But the school did not share that critical information with the DeKalb Board of Education when it applied and won local approval on June 13. The school waited until the morning after the vote, on June 14, according to the DeKalb school spokesman Walter Woods. Why?
It didn’t give the school any edge. In fact, the school now has to quickly come up with an entirely new plan to bring back to the county and the deadline was yesterday. (DeKalb told me the school did not get its stuff in by 6; the school said it got it in last night. Waiting for clarification, although DeKalb said it would take the stuff this morning.)
This rocky start would not inspire confidence that the school is together enough at this point for DeKalb taxpayers to pour millions into the school.
I have been to the school and was impressed, but there are parents who chose that school based on the Sabis academic program. They deserve to know soon what the substitute program will be.
Maureen

I took my child out!!

June 28th, 2011
10:46 pm

This school made many promises that it did not keep. The student behavior was terrible to say the least. The teacher turnover here was unbelievable. And while many of the teachers and staff were nice and pleasant, the truth is that neither they or their for profit management company, SABIS were prepared to run such a large charter school. For many of you charter supporters, you didn’t see the foolishness that I saw that led me to withdraw my child. The next time you talk about how great this school is, talk to the kids who were in ability grouped classes, so the “slow” kids were all together and suffering. They better fix it next year if they have a chance or I as a DeKalb taxpayer will lead the effort to see them closed.

Wow!

June 29th, 2011
12:02 am

Wow! For once I get to hear a parent review of this school. I have been searching on line for reviews. I believe there is a lot that the board is not telling. All that time representatives were recruiting in Walmart etc…not once did anyone reveal the school was facing a lawsuit! I am completely turned off by the chages this school has made. My child was accepted in the lottery, I think we’ll pass. I prefer not to be a part of this schools experiment o nour innocent kids!