KIPP Vows to Appeal Rejection of Nashville Charter Proposal

The Metro Nashville Public School board has approved only two out of ten submitted charter school proposals for next year, News Channel 5 reports. One of the schools that gained the coveted approval, to begin operating next year, is the Intrepid Prep Academy which was praised by members for its strong business plan and comprehensive curriculum that aligned well with the state academic standards. The other approval, Nashville Classical, will begin operating as an elementary school at the charter school incubator located in East Nashville before moving to its permanent headquarters in North Nashville the following year.

Among the rejected proposals, the one that drew the biggest surprise was the Knowledge Is Power Program's plan to expand its Nashville network and open another school in the area. According to the MNPS director Dr. Jesse Register, the board was presented with a recommendation to approve KIPP's plans but chose to ignore them. The board members based their votes on the 2010-11 test scores from the currently operating Nashville-area KIPP school, which failed to meet the minimum standards set by the school district.

The KIPP's Executive Director Randy Dowell has vowed that his company would not accept the board's decision quietly, and has already made plans to file an appeal in light of the fact that the district's own charter review committee recommended approval of KIPP's application.

School board member Mark North was critical of KIPP's test results, pointing to the charter school's regressed scores in science and social studies.

"They were hurt by their own performance at their existing school," North said, pointing out that KIPP's value-added scores for science and social studies were the worst in the entire school district.

KIPP Academy's overall academic achievement received poor marks on the most recent state evaluation for the 2010-11 school year. KIPP, which educates students in grades 5-8, received a D grade in math, reading and social studies, and an F in science.

Last week, Karl Dean, the city's mayor and one of the strongest supporters of the charter school movement in the state, voiced his support for KIPP's appeal and said that he found the board's rejection of the company's application "disappointing." Although he said that the board should have followed the recommendations issued by the charter review committee when it came to KIPP, his remarks regarding the board's rejection of Great Hearts Academies' proposal to open five schools in the city, were much more measured.

"The school board raised legitimate issues of diversity and transportation as it relates to the application Great Hearts Academies submitted. Diversity is an important value when it comes to educating our students, and charters need to be positioned in a way that serves the entire community. … I encourage Great Hearts and Metro Schools to work together to find a solution."

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