Hope Academy Charter School loses UMKC sponsorship over low student achievement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Hope Academy Charter School in Kansas City, Mo., will lose its sponsorship with the University of Missouri- Kansas City at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

UMKC started sponsoring Hope Academy in 2009. In December of 2013, the university notified the school the sponsorship was ending. The State Board of Education agreed with UMKC. You can read DESE's statement here: http://on.mo.gov/1iMrced

The follow is a statement on Hope Academy by Dr. Phyllis Chase, director of the UMKC Charter School Center:

"The UMKC Charter School Center made the decision not to renew the charter for Hope Academy in December 2013. The decision was based solely on academic performance. Hope Academy did not meet its contractual obligation to increase achievement for the students it serves.  Specifically, Hope Academy student scores on the Missouri Assessment Plan (MAP) for the past four years have been low enough to identify the school as a persistently low achieving school by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In December 2010, the UMKC Charter School Center told Hope Academy officials in writing: "Failure to meet the minimum academic achievement on the state assessment (MAP) by the 2011 - 2012 school year could result in Hope Academy being placed on probation for the 2012 – 2013 school year. The 2013 - 2014 school year is either the charter renewal year or the closure year for Hope Academy."

We will continue to work with Hope Academy officials to finish out the 2013-2014 academic year, and ensure a smooth transition for the students and the staff."

Hope Academy's academic problems are nothing new. Last fall, members of DESE's Charter School Office made an unannounced visit to the school and found falsified attendance records and instructional activities that did not meet state standards. UMKC replaced all the administrators and brought in an interim superintendent.

Hope Academy appealed to the state the decision to allow UMKC to end its sponsorship.

Attorney for Hope Academy Dana Cutler, stresses the importance of keeping the school open. She said high school students who attend the school have not been successful in the tradition school setting.

"It's about our kids and we want to make decisions that will allow students who are already somewhat distrustful of education and the system. We want to continue to have an environment where they feel safe," Cutler said.

Cutler said the state gave the charter school several options to consider with or without the UMKC sponsorship.

"We have a lot of hope right now. We are looking at all the things that we can possibly do based on what they said to us so that we can be open, service those students, keep our great staff," Cutler said.

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