Archive for the ‘Fulton’ Category

Fulton charter school: How much are parents willing to overlook if their children are flourishing?

An outside audit of a noted charter middle school in Alpharetta found contracts awarded without the competitive bidding process, conflicts of interest, co-mingling of funds, the hiring of Turkish citizens for staff positions for which there were qualified Georgians, payment of visas for family members of staff, payment of airline tickets for staff to return to Turkey for long summer visits and a lack of background checks on staff members who accompanied students to Turkey.

In a 90-minute meeting with the AJC, Fulton school chief Robert Avossa said the audit of the Fulton Science Academy Middle School represented the most “egregious” problem he had ever encountered in his 20 year career in education.

“I am not the lawyer, but when you look at this, look at the facts, it is wrong. We don’t do self dealing. We don’t take kids on field trips without proper vetting,” he said.

School officials received a copy of the audit early Tuesday but said they would withhold comment until …

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Auditors on Fulton Science Academy: “Environment of resistance and obstructionism.”

Here are examples of what the auditors reported encountering at Fulton Science Academy Middle School.

Here is a link to the full audit.

Here is a link to a letter from the school chief to the school board on this issue.

Here is a link to a blog on the implications of this audit for charter schools in general.

I have included wide swaths of the auditors’ accounts of blocking tactics by the school.

What makes these tactics troubling is that the school was a taxpayer-funded public school, authorized by Fulton County. The school’s elaborate obstructions protracted the time it took to complete this audit, delaying it by more than a month and raising the final cost to Fulton residents who paid for every minute, fruitful or not, that the auditors spent on the task.

These are excerpts of the audit:

The Auditors conducted the review of the FSA records in a conference room. There was at least one monitor selected by FSAMS in the conference room throughout the day. When the Auditors …

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Fulton school chief on charter school audit: Great concerns over problems at sister schools

Here is the letter that Fulton Superintendent Robert Avossa gave school board members today regarding financial questions about the Fulton Science Academy Middle School:

Here is a link to the audit.

Dear Board Members,

The school system’s responsibility to its charter schools goes beyond management, operations, and financial statements. We have an obligation to good public policy, financial stewardship, and to protect the welfare of all students. In FCS, there is an expectation that we will work in partnership with our charter schools, their staff, governing boards, and parents. Unfortunately with Fulton Science Academy Middle (FSAMS), that partnership failed. We will, however, use the insight gained from the relationship with FSAMS to guide us in creating better charter policy and establishing successful, productive relationships with all of our current and future charter schools.

As you know, in December the Fulton County Board of Education offered a 3-year contract to …

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Not true that urban schools fail all students: Intown white high school students outperform suburban counterparts.

Jarod Apperson, a Midtown reader, sent me an interesting analysis of Georgia SAT scores, similar to one that I ran a few years ago, showing that white students in metro schools outperform suburban counterparts.  Except he went a bit deeper.

Here is why he compiled the data and what he hopes we learn from it:

Since my analysis has some newer data and focuses on specific schools, people might still be interested in it.  I think the fact that North Atlanta is the No. 3 public school in the state for white high school students could be a strong talking point for APS school chief Erroll B. Davis trying to get more middle-class families to stay in the public education system.

It’s a narrative that’s not heard enough.

To answer your question about how I came to look at this, I became interested in education reform a few years ago when I read a book by Paul Tough called “Whatever it Takes.”  I’ve always felt that excellent public education was the best way to create economic …

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State DOE releases list of Alert Schools today

The state Department of Education released its list of Alert Schools today.

The new DOE accountability designations — priority schools, focus schools and reward schools — replace the “needs improvement” label in No Child Left Behind that educators deemed unclear and unhelpful. These three designations target  “Title I” schools that have a high percentage of low-income students. DOE also designated a fourth category, “alert schools,” so the state can focus on struggling schools that do not necessarily have a high percentage of low-income students.

DOE defines Alert Schools are those that need to raise student achievement on statewide assessments in the areas of graduation rate for high schools and subgroup performance and subject performance for elementary and middle schools. Alert Schools can be Title I Schools or Non-Title I Schools.

The criteria used to identify Alert Schools are:

(1) Graduation Alert Schools: High Schools whose subgroup …

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Federal judge: Gay-friendly prom idea was not reason for ouster of Alpharetta High president

The deposed Alpharetta High student body president had his first day in court and lost.

According to the AJC:

A federal judge Friday ruled against an Alpharetta High School senior who claims he was ousted as student body president for pushing to make the school’s prom king and queen selection more inclusive to gay and lesbian students.

Reuben Lack, an honor student and debate team captain, filed a federal lawsuit that alleges his removal as president violated his rights of free speech and expression. In a 12-page order, U.S. District Judge Richard Story denied Lack’s request to be reinstated as student body president. The judge commended Lack for championing the inclusion of all students in school activities and his “zeal to change policy.” Story also expressed concern over the timing of Lack’s removal — a month after his prom idea became an issue.

But Story said he found evidence supporting a conclusion that Lack was removed for other reasons. These include …

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Teacher absenteeism: Are mental health days on the rise?

Teacher absenteeism can adversely affect students. (AP Images)

Teacher absenteeism can adversely affect students. (AP Images)

The AJC has an interesting piece this morning on absenteeism among metro Atlanta teachers. The story by education writer Ty Tagami and database specialist Kelly Guckian is subscriber only and will not appear online so I can’t share a link. But I can provide a summary.

The AJC analyzed metro Atlanta attendance data for the past three years and found that teachers in nearly all districts missed on average more than 10 days due to illness, training, personal leave or jury duty. Sickness was the most common cause.

The story examines whether “mental health” days are increasing because of class size, diminishing respect and increasing responsibilities and accountability.

“It used to be that teachers only worried about teaching,” said Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators. “Now, they have to worry about paperwork, evaluations, test scores, data management, keeping your …

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Alpharetta teen says he was ousted from student presidency for suggesting a gay-friendly prom

The AJC is reporting that an Alpharetta High School senior filed a lawsuit this week contending that administrators removed him as student body president after he pushed for making the prom more inclusive to gay students.

This news story  does not have a comment from Fulton County school officials, but I have gotten the statement from Fulton, which is posted below.  First the story.

According to the story:

Reuben Lack, an 18-year-old senior at Alpharetta High School, filed the lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court. He’s asking a judge to issue an injunction reinstating him as student body president.

Lack said he introduced a resolution at a January student council meeting to modify the school’s “prom king and queen” tradition to make it more inclusive to gay students.

Lack says he was told by school officials Feb. 8 that he was immediately removed from his position for “pushing personal projects” and advocating policy changes. School officials couldn’t …

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DOE releases list of 156 schools on its new “focus” list

Under its new accountability system, Georgia has created a tier of schools known as focus schools. Today, DOE released the list of 156 focus schools.

Focus schools  — which include schools doing well by a lot of students, but not by all students — will be served by DOE for three years with supports beginning in June.

(Since I posted this yesterday, the AJC has put up a news story that lists the local schools. See it here.)

The new DOE accountability designations — priority schools, focus schools and reward schools — replace the “needs improvement” label that educators deemed unclear and unhelpful. These three designations target  “Title I” schools that have a high percentage of low-income students.

Earlier this month, DOE released the names of the 78 schools on the priority list, a label that brings the greatest level of intervention to address chronic under performance.

The reward designation goes to high-achieving schools. DOE will also designate a fourth category, …

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If you need improvement now, you are a priority school under Georgia’s new, kinder accountability rankings

The state’s newly sanctioned accountability system is coming into public view with the release of 78 “priority” schools that are under performing and will see a concerted effort to improve.

Apparently, putting a school in the “priority” category has a less offensive ring than putting it in “needs improvement,” the discarded parlance from No Child Left Behind. The other new categories in Georgia are “focus” schools and “reward” schools.  The reward designation goes to high-achieving schools.

When you look at the priority list, there are a large number of  alternative high schools, which are designed to serve troubled students or kids who have not been doing well.

There are 14 schools in the Atlanta Public Schools, 10 in DeKalb County, three in Gwinnett (Meadowcreek High School and Gwinnett InterVention Education Center East and West) and one each in Cobb (Devereux Ackerman Academy)  and Fulton (McClaren Alternative School). Schools are placed on the list because of low …

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