If I were a parent considering Peachtree Hope Charter School, I would be asking the board of directors why they chose to terminate the management contract with Sabis, which provides the management and curriculum for the Memorial Drive charter school.
Essentially, the decision means that the DeKalb school has to start from scratch in its academic blueprint, and there are real questions today whether it can recreate itself in time to reopen in August. The school’s board of directors plans to meet with parents later this week to explain why they dumped Sabis and how the school plans to move forward.
But Peachtree Hope Charter School only has a few hours left today to submit an application to DeKalb County.
(Note: DeKalb sent me this note at 6 Monday evening: “No word on Peachtree Hope today. We’re waiting until the a.m. to give them some more time.” But then, the AJC reporter writing the news story on the school’s plight sent me this note: Peachtree Hope filed a new application with DeKalb Schools late Monday, said Richard Andre, an attorney representing the school, which is expecting 700 students in the fall. The application is expected to be voted on in July at the local board meeting.)
Peachtree Hope was among 16 charter schools statewide stranded by a Georgia Supreme Court ruling in May invalidating the Georgia Charter Schools Commission and the schools it had approved. The schools scrambled to find local sponsorship and funding through boards of education, and Peachtree Hope was one of the lucky ones.
On June 13, the DeKalb Board of Education granted it a year waiver to remain open and funded while it worked on its application for a five-year county charter. But the DeKalb school board did so under the assumption that Sabis, a worldwide for-profit school management firm operating in 12 countries, was still in charge.
But Sabis told me today that it was notified that it was being kicked out of the school on June 3. The company provided a copy of the termination notice that was sent to them from the Lightmas & Delk law firm and it was dated June 3. A company official also told me that Sabis was surprised and disappointed at the termination. The official had been in Atlanta that week working with the board of directors to submit its charter application to DeKalb.
I have a call into Lonnie King, chairman of the Peachtree Hope board of directors., about the time line. I have not heard back from him but will add his comments.
(Peachtree Hope seems to have had a successful inaugural year under Sabis; 95 percent of the students were returning and a new grade was being added. As of now, the school expects to enroll 678 children in grades k-6 in August. But we haven’t seen CRCT scores yet for the school in its first year.)
A few hours after seeking and winning its one-year extension from the DeKalb school board on June 13, Peachtree Hope notified DeKalb that it was no longer affiliated with Sabis, according to DeKalb spokesman Walter Woods.
“They alerted us the morning after the charter was approved. That changed the entire notion of the charter, and they are going to have to resubmit,” said Woods today. “And the deadline for them to do so is today. If they give us something today, we will review that and put it in front of the board on July 11. ”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog