I've been calling for months for the D.C. Public Charter School Board to reverse its initial decision to close Options Public Charter School, and the Washington Post's Emma Brown details that yesterday its executive director Scott Pearson announced that he now recommends that it stay open. The stunning reversal came during an oversight hearing of the PCSB by D.C. Councilman Catania's education committee.
Mr. Catania, according to the Post reporter, summarized the change by stating, “It might provide a road map in the future when we look at school closings. This could be an introduction to how do we do this in a smooth way.”
Exactly. The move by Mr. Pearson directly follows the takeover of Arts and Technology PCS by KIPP DC. The Board had rightly voted to close Arts and Technology but erred in my opinion by not first identifying a high performing operator to continue teaching its more than 600 students. The problem was corrected by KIPP's winning proposal to assume control of the charter.
Now we have justice regarding Options. The action is legitimized by the heroic work court-appointed Receiver Josh Kern has done repairing a school caught up in a firestorm of financial and operational mismanagement. While it appears that a small group of the school's former executives may have illegally personally benefited from their roles at the charter, the losers in all of this were the 400 emotionally and physically disabled children enrolled at the facility. Many of these kids have been moved from school to school throughout their academic life. The moral thing to do is to provide stability to people for whom this is a foreign term. Mr. Kern has been working day and night toward this singular goal.
All is not completely worked out. The plan is for DCPS to run Options for a year during which time another charter will have to be identified to administer the school. In addition, the PCSB needs to approve the proposal. But I have no doubt that these details will be resolved, and Options PCS will one day stand as a shining example of what the charter movement can achieve with special education students.