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Fate of state’s first charter school in the CD in hands of commission

Washington state’s first charter school has been on a rocky road since it opened last September. The state Charter School Commission started asking questions about First Place Scholar’s lack of documentation only two months after it opened.

Since then, the 20th and E Spruce school has received probation, corrective action, notices of concern, multiple requests for documentation and multiple chances to produce it.

Now the charter commission says it is at its last straw with the publicly funded, independently run school that focuses on teaching kids living in poverty and those who have experienced trauma.

UPDATE 3:40 PM: A motion to revoke the school’s charter failed in a 4-3 vote by the commission Thursday afternoon. Commissioners instead voted to put First Place on a 12 month probation with a monthly vote on whether the school is meeting certain goals.

Eariler this month, commissioners laid out nine specific conditions that First Place was required to meet by June 15th. The commission will be reviewing the school’s progress during its Thursday meeting on issues dealing with special education and English language instruction, the school’s financial viability, and its overall educational plan.

If First Place doesn’t meet the ultimatums, the board could introduce a resolution to revoke the school’s charter. In a letter sent to the First Place board of directors, commissioners identified specific documents it wanted the school to present at Thursday’s meeting.

In order for Commissioners to vote in favor of First Place maintaining is charter and continue to serve students as a public charter school, the Commission requires concrete evidence that First Place will bring itself into compliance with its legal obligations; make whole those students who have not received services to which they were entitled during this school year; and establish a strong foundation for future compliance.

In recent meetings, commissioners have praised the school for making substantial progress. Commissioners have also acknowledged the challenges the school faced by having only eight months to get off the ground as the first charter school in the state. Nine charter schools are expected to be open by next school year. Washington voters narrowly approved charter schools to operate in the state in 2012.

First Place Letter

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5 years ago

What a surprise, for-profit deregulationists hate filing paperwork and proving their worth with metrics (though they inflict the same burdens and worse on public schools.)

5 years ago

I’m a public school teacher that is against 99% of Charter Schools that have opened for the purpose of making money for corporate interests ( Hello Kevin Johnson and Michelle Rhee) – but First Place is NOT one of those places. FP helps students truly in need of an innovative and responsive small school environment. I know why the Charter School Commission is being strict with enforcement – and I think they should be – but if there is ONE school in the state that should be given more flexibility it is First Place. Since our state representatives refuse to fund public education in a way that provides for the individualized care students like those at FP need, it’s a good thing that FP has stepped into the gap and is helping these students out.