MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The superintendent of Memphis City Schools says he will likely recommend that three charter schools close because of poor academic performance.
The Commercial Appeal reports the schools are Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, Promise Academy, and the middle school at Memphis Business Academy.
Without a waiver for the schools from the federal government, the city school board could be asked to decide as early as next month whether to shut them down.
Cash would have to make the recommendation to close the schools, and says “it’s very likely at this point.”
“My concern is by the time (the waiver decision is made), we are at the start of school,” he said. “For me, it is unfair to parents and students to get late notification.”
Tennessee arguably has the strictest charter accountability laws in the nation. Charters can be closed after two years of failing to make adequate academic progress. Other states give charter schools up to nine years to improve.
Despite the strict accountability, Tennessee’s governor recently signed a law that removes the cap on charter schools and allows any student in the charter school’s jurisdiction to attend.
If the three charter schools close, the decision will be based on state tests students took this past spring. Individual schools’ scores are embargoed until early August, giving Memphis City Schools and the state board of education time to sift through anomalies.
Charter school leaders say an error in even one student’s score could turn the tide under “safe harbor” provisions, which allow schools to show academic progress if 10 percent of students made gains.
“The conversation is so fragile that no end results have been determined yet,” said Anthony Anderson, head of Memphis Business Academy, which opened in 2004.
In March, city school officials ordered each of the three charters to complete a contingency plan for closing the schools, which would displace a little over 1,400 students.
The city school board has not been in this position since 2007, when it revoked the charter of Yo! Academy a week after school started for poor math scores.