Kansas City's Hope Academy accused of inflating attendance records

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Charter School Office of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has put a Kansas City charter school on notice because of low academic performance and attendance records that showed more students in class than actually were present.

Officials made an unannounced visit to Hope Academy on October 9, where they determined four issues, one of which being over-inflated attendance numbers. They also found low academic performance continued a four-year trend and instructional activities that do not meet even the minimum state standards.

On its website, it touts a 95.4% attendance rate which ended up being a red flag to the DESE Charter School Office. Hope Academy reported it enrolled 636 students this year, but when charter officials showed up during the unannounced visit, they found only 170 students in class.

Also while there, the state looked into allegations students paid a staff member for academic credit.

But that's not all, Hope Academy offered credit for activities such as students after school jobs, hair braiding and babysitting.

"The school should not be reimbursed for state funds for students doing these kinds of activities," Sarah Potter of the Communications Staff with DESE said.

DESE made the announcement Tuesday.

In response to the report, the Hope Academy Board of Directors released a response that reads in part:

"The Hope Academy Board has retained external, independent auditors to review DESE's concerns. The Board takes the issues raised by DESE seriously, as seen by its swift response to the same. It should be noted, that the Board is pursuing renewal of its charter, rather than closure of Hope Academy. The mission of Hope Academy is to provide opportunities to Kansas City students, who have given up on education, to complete their high school diplomas."

|READ THE FULL STATEMENT HERE: http://bit.ly/1b2UFhh |

The University Of Missouri-Kansas City sponsors the academy and is expected to present a plan to the state by December 1.

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