D.C. Board votes to revoke KIMA's charter

By Alan Goldenbach and Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 23, 2010; 2:40 PM

The D.C. Public Charter School Board voted unanimously Monday evening to revoke the charter for the Kamit Institute for Magnificent Achievers (KIMA), starting a timeline that could close the school before the 2010-11 academic year.

The board cited a number of violations, including the illegal enrollment of non-D.C. residents at the school to play on its basketball team, as first reported by The Post.

KIMA has until July 14 -- 15 business days from receiving written notification of the board's decision -- to request a hearing to challenge the ruling. If it makes such a request, then the board has 30 days to schedule a hearing, after which it would render a final decision on KIMA's future. Revocation of a charter means a school is no longer eligible for public funding.

The board charged KIMA with "failure to have -- nonresident students pay tuition to attend," and cited The Post's Mar. 19 report that detailed how several basketball players from Maryland skirted residency requirements by living with coaches or non-immediate family members in order to attend the school.

"Closure of a school at any time is disruptive to families," Board Chairman Brian Jones said. "But the fact of the matter remains that this Board is highly focused on offering the highest quality alternatives to D.C. families. Closing under-performing schools is a painful but necessary part of this process."

Among KIMA's other violations cited by the Board, were a failure to have more than 42 percent of its students attaining math or reading proficiency on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System (DC-CAS) each year from 2004 to '09, no evidence of a fully developed curriculum, a truancy rate of at least 30 percent for the past three school years, a lack of sufficient books and other supplies, failure to comply with federal regulations for students with special needs, and a failure to have a school board in compliance with the School Reform Act of 1996. Also, the board has audited the transcripts of KIMA's past three senior classesand found only 23 of 106 transcripts to be accurate.

KIMA boys' basketball coach Levet Brown said Tuesday, "I've always looked at it as being a well-rounded school. . . . Hopefully, they can address those issues in there."

In a January interview, KIMA founder and executive director Ur Aua Hehimetu Ra Enkamit said his enrollment this past school year was about 190 in grades 6-12, and added that at least 30 were there either because they were on the boys' basketball team (KIMA did not field a girls' team this past year) or they were siblings of a team member.

Enkamit did not return phone or email messages left for him at the school. Meantime, another charter school cited in The Post's report to have illegally enrolled nonresident students, Friendship Collegiate Academy, will not be subject to any planned action, according to Charter School Board spokesperson Nona Richardson. Richardson said the board found Friendship's response to The Post's report has been satisfactory, and that Friendship Chairman Donald Hense is "leading a working group to establish shared principles and rules for all charter school athletic programs."

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