The D.C. Public Charter school board voted Monday night to begin the process to revoke the charter for Potomac Prep in Northeast Washington.
Darren Woodruff, vice chairman of the board, said the decision was based on a "a decade- long pattern of declining academic performance and challenges with management.”
According to a staff report, the school is not meeting 17 of its 20 goals and academic expectations. The staff also reported high turnover among school leaders, basic compliance issues, weak fiscal management and an “often chaotic environment at the school.”
Last June, the school terminated its agreement with Lighthouse Academies, a Massachusetts-based management company, and put a new leadership team in place.
School leaders are now asking the board to extend the charter and give them time to make improvements.
“The last 10 years have been trying to say the least ... but the new administration is committed to guiding Potomac Prep in a new direction,” said Nicholette Smith-Bligen, chairman of the school’s board.
“We don’t want our story to be that we made mistakes, but when we finally made a change for the better, we were not given the opportunity,” she said.
The school can request a public hearing before a final decision is made about its charter.
The charter board also voted Monday to give conditional approval to a charter application by Kingsman Academy, which is seeking to take over Options Public Charter School, a school for at-risk students that is under court receivership.
The application was submitted by members of the interim school leadership team.
Woodruff said that he was impressed in a recent visit by how engaged students were in the classrooms.
“It’s been a pretty incredible turnaround already,” he said. “I am optimistic for what potentially could come if they are given the opportunity to continue.”
The board also approved an amendment to a charter that was granted last spring for Children’s Guild, a Maryland nonprofit with experience in educating children with disabilities. The original charter included plans for a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school. The amendment would let it expand to high school grades, giving it a chance to compete for the Options takeover, although the board stipulated that the school would have to expand into high school one grade at a time.
The board voted against an application from Phillips Programs for Children and Families, an organization that operates special education and nontraditional schools in Maryland and Virginia. The board cited concerns with curriculum, disciplinary policy and academic goals.
Options has been in turmoil since last year, when the city sued the charter school and its former leaders, alleging that they diverted more than $3 million from the school through contracts to companies they founded.
More recently, the school came under scrutiny again when a substitute teacher was charged with having sex with a student in a classroom.
A final decision about which applicant will take over the school is expected next month.