Floundering Peachtree Hope Charter in DeKalb could become an Ivy Prep campus

As I reported here a few weeks ago, strange events were occurring at Peachtree Hope Charter School, which fired its management company June 3, yet failed to disclose that critical fact when it sought local approval by the DeKalb school board.

(Along with management, Minnesota-based Sabis International Schools Network provided Peachtree Hope with its curriculum.)

Now, the school has missed vital deadlines to become a DeKalb charter school or a state charter school, leaving 600 kids in limbo.

Ivy Preparatory Academy may come to the rescue of some of those kids.

The successful all-girl charter school in Gwinnett is applying to the state to take over the Peachtree Hope site where it could realize its dream of boys and girls academies in DeKalb. The DeKalb board nixed the idea last week when Ivy Prep presented charter applications for two such schools. The review committee deemed the Ivy Prep applications incomplete and preliminary and cited several problems, most notably a lack of definite sites or facilities for the new schools.

Taking over Peachtree Hope would solve the location question. The school operated for one year in a Memorial Drive shopping center.

According to the AJC:

Ivy Preparatory Academy, an all-girls school in Gwinnett, has applied for a state charter to open a new branch in DeKalb — with the hope of opening soon after the new school year begins.

If Ivy Prep gets the charter, it will move into the Memorial Drive building that Peachtree Hope Charter School occupied, an official with Ivy Prep confirmed. Ivy Prep would divide the building in two, creating one school for girls and another for boys, the school official, Nina Gilbert, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday.

Gilbert, who is the head of school, or principal, didn’t want to say much else because the state charter application is pending. “We don’t want to be presumptuous,” Gilbert said. “We have to work with the Department of Education to make sure this could be a seamless transition.”

The state Education Department confirmed receipt of the application. It’s not on the Aug. 10 state Board of Education agenda yet, Louis Erste, the Georgia charter schools division director, said Friday. But “we are expediting our review and hope to have completed it by the end of next week. It is looking good so far.”

Gilbert, the Ivy Prep principal, said she has a letter of intent with the building owner to move into the space. The new school’s primary mission would be to serve the 200 girls who live in DeKalb and commute to Ivy Prep’s Gwinnett campus, she said. She doesn’t know how many other seats would be available, but “we want to give the Peachtree Hope families priority,” she said.

I just looked at Peachtree Hope’s CRCT scores, which are not as strong as Ivy Prep’s. I have to caution that this was the school’s first year and that it had many kids who were behind already.

Test results for third grade show that 40 percent of students failed math. In social studies, 47 percent failed. In science, 53.3 percent failed, while 29.7 failed reading.  The school’s best scores were in language arts, where only 23  failed and 21.6 percent exceeded.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

17 comments Add your comment

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 23rd, 2011
12:48 am

Like them or not, charters frequently offer the flexibility and mission-discipline uncharacteristic of many traditional public schools

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 23rd, 2011
12:49 am

…schools.

Where are my spectacles, Dr. John?

no mas

July 23rd, 2011
3:15 am

If this comes to pass, I hope the pride the students of the original Ivy Prep feel in their school can be duplicated. I believe this is part of their success.

Feeling proud of your school and proud to be a student there is undervalued as a component of student achievement. My children attended a single-sex school, and they felt an obligation to do their best so they did not let their school mates and teachers down.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 23rd, 2011
4:31 am

(N)o mas,

Excelente!

School culture, like family and popular cultures, critically impacts student learning.

Patrick Crabtree

July 23rd, 2011
4:55 am

Charter Schools ……… Why does everyone think Charters are thecure all? Do people really think they have autonomy when they give up their rights to a charter? They are private schools funded by public monies AND you cannot go to your ELECTED officials if you don’t like what is going on, the charter has total controll as long as the charter is active (usually 5 years at a time). We need to correct public schools. Take back what is ours according to the constitution and stop trying to shortcut and circumventing our rights,

Jennifer

July 23rd, 2011
7:52 am

That is what true educators do. Work hard and make it happen – even under the most difficult conditions.

Jovan Miles

July 23rd, 2011
11:01 am

This is an exciting development for both IPA and Peachtree Hope.

Hopeful mom

July 23rd, 2011
1:54 pm

I am educator and a parent. Yes: we do need to fix our educational system. The problems with education spiral into many different directions. It could take years to navigate the complexity of the problems tearing away at our public schools. However, in the meantime, parents are straped for options. Parents who care about their children want not only a decent environment, but also an environment where their children will be able to compete in this global community. People with financial resources have the option of running to a private school or homeschooling. Many parents struggle everyday just to feed their children and meet other basic needs. They are good parents, but can’t afford private school and may not have the resources or skills to homeschool. Don’t these parents deserve some option too? Charter schools are just that – an option. Hard working parents should not be forced to deal with a poor school environment. Their tax dollars pay for education. Yes: we must fix our public schools, but in the meantime, charter schools offer desperate parents a chance to provide their children a better education and a better life. Ultimately, any opportunity for improvment in a child’s education is an opportunity for a better society. We all benefit in the long run. The politics of who gets to control how this is achieved has been the focus. Most parents don’t care about the money, power, or politics that drive the debate over charter versus public school. They just want a good education for their children. That’s all that really matters.

diva

July 24th, 2011
3:21 am

patrick crabtree wrote:

“They are private schools funded by public monies AND you cannot go to your ELECTED officials if you don’t like what is going on, the charter has total controll as long as the charter is active (usually 5 years at a time).”
——
this is untrue of charter schools. charter schools are still public schools – not “private.” charters cannot keep certain kids out, like private schools. all children are accepted into charter schools, regardless of the neighborhood they live in, or their academic abilities. while there are some charters that are run by for-profit organizations, most are are start-up schools run by non-profit organizations of community members, teachers, and parents.

charter schools are actually much more vulnerable than traditional district run schools. as you mentioned, charter schools have to go through a process to prove that their programs are worthy of renewal every 5 years. it is no cake walk. interviews and site visits are involved, in addition to scrutiny of academic goals and budgeting on paper. if a parent had a problem with a charter school, it would be very easy to make a stink about it with the district, because some districts are anti-charter anyway (some people, like you, believe that charter schools are “taking away” something form the kids).

John Q Public

July 24th, 2011
9:14 am

I could care less how a child receives a high quality education. We are we so hung up on the inputs and not the outcomes. Charters are not perfect, far from it. But charters provide parents who want or must choose public K-12 education with the very important ability to say, “what is the best setting for my child, my zoned school or the charter”. As a big supporter of charters, I don’t care if the choice is the zoned school so long as the child is receiving what he/she needs to productive members of our communities.

GO IVY!!!!

Charter schools are PUBLIC SCHOOLS

July 25th, 2011
12:18 am

Patrick Crabtree @4:55 AM

” They are private schools funded by public monies AND you cannot go to your ELECTED officials if you don’t like what is going on, the charter has total controll(sic) as long as the charter is active”

Wrong. They are public schools and are held accountable by the government agency that approved their charter (the local school board for most charter schools). The authorizing school board and school system oversee them.

Also, all PUBLIC charter schools (note there is no such thing as a private charter school) are non-profit.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the Georgia Department of Education FAQ on Charters. Based on your comments, I’d suggest spending some time reading it.
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/pea_charter.aspx?PageReq=PEACSGENFAQ

Here’s the first question/answer from the first section (Charter School Basics), if you are too busy to click the link above:

“What is a charter school?”

“A charter school is a public school of choice that operates under the terms of a charter, or contract, with an authorizer, such as the state and local boards of education or the Georgia Charter Schools Commission. Charter schools receive flexibility from certain state and local rules in exchange for a higher degree of accountability for raising student achievement. Charter schools are held accountable by their authorizer(s) for upholding the terms of their charter.”

Maureen, can I ask why you always let folks post the private school falsehood on EVERY post you do on Charters without at least correcting that part?

Also, I think it would be a great post by you to discuss how charter schools are actually run – it’s outlined in every charter application. A governing board runs the school. They create the charter and present it to the local and state school boards for approval. The board may choose to engage a private company to help write the charter (and the curriculum piece of the charter).

Some public charter governing boards choose to outsource some/most of the operations to a private company (e.g. Peachtree Hope governing board hired Sabis International Schools). Some do not.

In cases where a private company is hired to run some/most of the school, the governing board still has the power to fire them – Peachtree Hope is a current example of that power structure in action.

Concerned for all

July 25th, 2011
1:26 am

It is so unfortunate for all of these students who are having to go back to the public schools at the last minute, but what about the teachers and staff of Peachtree Hope who lost there jobs Friday. Most of the positions they could have applied for over the summer have been filled. It is truly an unfortunate series of events for all involved.

donwhite

July 25th, 2011
9:04 am

For Maureen or anybody else that may have an answer, why did the board fire the management company?

Go Panthers!

July 25th, 2011
9:47 am

Still not buying the charter school line. The whole firing of the management company without any public notice is the kind of stuff private schools in the throes of a power grab go through. I can’t walk into a public school and fire the Principal because I’m on the PTA and I’m unhappy with their performance – now or 5 years from now. Charters use public money and should not have have the power to do stuff like that with public funds at risk.

This just makes me even more unconvinced about this movement, but good luck to them if they insist on moving forward. I guess helping a few children with vocal parents is better than changing an entire public school around. Or is it?

Maureen Downey

July 25th, 2011
10:42 am

@donwhite, I only have the side of the management company as the board has not responded to the AJC: The management company contends that some board members were interfering with day-to-day operations at the school and that tensions developed. I think there is a general belief in the charter advocacy community in Atlanta that the board created the problems now facing the school. I wonder if Ivy Prep, if granted the charter to operate at that site, will put any of the same board members on its board.
Maureen

Hopeful mom

July 25th, 2011
4:07 pm

The board members of Peachtree Hope were and remain to be dedicated to the children. My guess is that the management company was milking the money and was not willing to make the changes that the board was saying was necessary inorder for the school to work for the community of people it was serving. I think the board members are getting all of the blame because they have not spoken up concerning this issue. Perhaps, they have been advised to let the lawyers and the court handle woes with the management company rather than play this out in the media.

John Q Public

July 28th, 2011
11:32 pm

Maureen, why would Ivy place former members of Peachtree Hope on the Ivy DeKalb’s board? I find that suggestion to be out of left field.