So, all this happened just this week in DC schools:
–Shots were fired at the windows of Hendley Elementary while children were inside. It was the second time in as many weeks the school building was shot at. The Ward 8 school recently received a large budget cut–despite having many at risk students.
–A fire broke out in the cafeteria of Beers Elementary. When employees pulled the fire alarm, nothing happened. The Ward 7 school (rated in “good” condition in the master facilities plan) was supposed to have been renovated by now. It also received budget cuts. No official word on who is responsible for ensuring all fire alarms in every DC public school work–and why the alarm at Beers didn’t work. (And what other school fire alarms may not be working.)
–A former employee of the Springboard aftercare company was arrested on June 12, charged with child sexual abuse. The alleged abuse, reported to officials on May 8, occurred during aftercare at Ward 6’s Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan. But until June 8 (when parents began finding out this news), Springboard provided aftercare for hundreds of students at 17 publicly funded DC schools. What happened between May 8 and June 8–who knew what and when–is unclear. Also unclear is the role of the office of the state superintendent for education (OSSE), which is required to oversee background checks for a subset of DC schools. One of those schools, KIPP, reported that although OSSE had licensed Springboard, the aftercare provider didn’t have documentation on background checks that KIPP officials requested. Parents circulated a petition to officials demanding answers–but no word on any response.
–Several more DC school playgrounds were discovered to have measurable levels of lead in their poured-in-place rubber surfaces.
–It became public knowledge that a member of the charter board, Naomi Shelton, took new employment with the KIPP Foundation, which provides support for KIPP charter schools. The news remains unannounced by the charter board, even though Shelton’s new position appears to be a violation of the city’s ethics code, if not also rules for charter board members.
–The charter board announced that 80% of DC’s charter schools meet or exceed its financial standards, which means that 20%–or one out of five–do not meet financial standards.
–There was another grading and graduation scandal at Somerset Prep, wherein staff appear to have manipulated data to pass the charter board’s audits. The charter board executive director merely noted that the school is closing for lots of reasons–which seems at odds with his previous statement that charter audits ensure things like this don’t happen. (Recall that OSSE refused to have an independent investigation of charter schools in the wake of a similar scandal at DCPS’s Ballou high school.)
–A well-funded charter advocacy organization has started a propaganda campaign for DCPS buildings, alleging that traditional public schools have short waitlists and too many seats (all due, naturally, to their teachers and students) and thus need to give up their buildings already, prompting parent and data nerd Betsy Wolf to put the lies to bed.
–The fact that most DC charters are currently in closed DCPS buildings and that there are right now very few closed schools to give over suggests that the ad is part of a movement to close more DCPS schools in wards 7 & 8 with the help of outrageous budget cuts to those schools and curious budgeting excuses, as Jonetta Rose Barras frighteningly outlined this week:
“Budget reductions and previous misdirection of at-risk funds explain, at least in part, why so many wards 7 and 8 institutions received low ratings in the STAR system . . . . It also explains the steady decline in the student population in many of those schools. The lack of sufficient financial support and the associated adverse effects, including under-utilization, portend potential closing of several schools east of the river. . . . if a recession hits, officials likely will use that as an occasion to justify reducing the number of schools in those communities–without having made any real effort to ramp up their enrollment.”