One of Jacksonville’s first charter schools is in danger of closure and it’s director is signalling that the school will be taking advantage of the state’s charter-friendly appeals process. Florida Times-Union reporter Teresa Stepzinski writes:
Genell M. Mills (School of Success Academy Charter Middle School) principal and director, said the district’s findings are flawed and that the school will appeal the superintendent’s recommendation.
Saying the school provides a quality education, Mills noted it already corrected many of the issues — including nepotism, sloppy bookkeeping and accounting practices, and fingerprinting and criminal background checks on employees — that district officials cited as deficiencies.
Mills said the recommendation is “misleading” and contradicts previous findings by district officials.
“It doesn’t reflect the current circumstances and our ongoing efforts to correct what they cited as deficiencies,” Mills said.
According to the district report, Academy demonstrated a “series of deficiencies consistently found by district officials during regular site visits over the past five years, with the most recent visit in February.” Mills isn’t stopping there and wants to challenge the state’s data:
In addition, many of its students’ academic performance in reading and math have declined over the past three years, as evidenced by their Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores. That data was obtained from the state Department of Education, said Susan Biehler, district supervisor of School Choice.
Mills said their students are making the required academic proficiency progress, and the academy is working to improve the achievement gains.
She questioned the district’s interpretation of the achievement data. The academy doesn’t know which students the district tracked in determining that some had regressed, she said.
“When people put data together, sometimes, it can get skewed,” Mills said.
Its rich that a charter school would want to dispute the same data which would prompt takeover via parent trigger legislation if it had passed. But who can blame Mills for playing the appeal card with the Duval school board not having the final say in the matter. Mills knows she can go over their head to appeal closure to a stacked State Charter School Appeal Commission..