D.C. charter board postpones vote to close Options school

The D.C. Public Charter School Board has postponed its decision about whether to close Options Public Charter School in order to accommodate a request for a public hearing on the matter.

Options has been in turmoil since October, when the D.C. Office of the Attorney General filed a complaint alleging that three former managers of the school funneled millions of dollars meant for students to two for-profit businesses they owned.

The city charter board voted in December to take the first step toward revoking Options’ charter for fiscal mismanagement. The board been scheduled to take its final vote Wednesday evening on a proposal to revoke the charter but allow the school to continue operating through the 2014-15 school year.

But Josh Kern, the court-appointed receiver who is overseeing Options, has asked for a public hearing to discuss the future of the school and its students.

He had previously said he would not request such a hearing in order to avoid a prolonged period of uncertainty for students, parents and staff. But the proposal to keep the school open for another year “creates new concerns that warrant attention,” he wrote in a Feb. 5 letter to the charter board’s leaders.

Kern has argued that the school’s at-risk students — most of whom have behavioral or learning disabilities, or are homeless or in foster care — would be best served if Options is allowed to remain open under new management. City leaders have been in talks about the possibility of turning over operations of Options to D.C. Public Schools, at least for a year.

The charter board is working to schedule the public hearing, a spokeswoman said. After the hearing, the charter board has 30 days to make its final decision.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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