Ross Global Academy

CHARTER'S BAD COURSE; December 23, 2010; New York Post 
City officials have documented a host of problems at a Manhattan charter school that they’re seeking to close in June — including shoddy teaching, high staff- and student-turnover rates and low test grades…

Among the school’s problems detailed in the report:
* "In one instance four adults stood talking in a corner while 26 [third] grade students sat at tables with no work to complete.
* "In an [eighth] grade classroom, two teachers repeatedly gave conflicting directions to students about how they would be held accountable for their learning and whether or not they should take notes, resulting in a full class period during which less than a quarter of students completed the assigned task."
* "One second-grade teacher was observed interrupting students’ independent writing six times in five minutes to remind them how to sit in their chairs."
* "In another classroom, four students who were off task and talking in the back of the room during instruction were not corrected by any of the three adults present."

Dozens of parents have complained over the years that the Academy was chaotic, unsafe and offered a poor learning environment.

A whopping 77 percent of last year’s staff didn’t return this school year…
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The Ross Global Academy opened five years ago on a raft of promises, like an innovative curriculum that would spiral through different historical eras, small class sizes, yoga, Mandarin lessons, an extended day and organic food prepared by a chef.

Led by a Texas-born benefactress, Courtney Sale Ross, the multimillionaire widow of a Time Warner chief executive, it also had Mary Brabeck, the dean of New York University’s school of education, on its board. It was given a home at Tweed Courthouse, the Education Department’s headquarters, where it was supported by Joel I. Klein, the departing schools chancellor.

But on Monday, Ross Global became a cautionary tale for the city’s well-heeled charter backers, among 12 schools the city announced it would seek to close this year for poor performance…

Ross Global, a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school with 400 students, faced problems from the start, alarming parents when it failed to come up with a safety plan for evacuating students from Lower Manhattan in case of emergencies, parents interviewed on Monday said. By the end of the first year, it had cycled through four principals; it is now on its sixth… 

More than 40 percent of teachers left each year, and 77 percent left last year, the city said. The situation bottomed out last year, when the school moved into its permanent home, a shared public school building on 11th Street in the East Village. 

Mrs. Ross and her backers spent $3 million making the school look “like an Ikea showroom, with working gas fireplaces, lounges and daybeds in the hallways,” said Mariama Sanoh, 32, who had three children at the school. But in the classrooms, there was often chaos… 

“The middle school was extremely violent,” said Ms. Sanoh, who has since withdrawn her children. “There were students cursing, breaking chairs, out of control, and there was no strong disciplinary action. Children just knew they would be suspended for several days and come back…” 

Ross Global plans to appeal the decision not to renew its charter, arguing that the school deserves some leniency because it is so new. If that does not work, it pledges to sue…
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This is one high-profile charter school that parents aren't desperate to get their children into…

Enrollment at Ross is down nearly 9% from last year, the latest city Education Department figures show. So unlike charter schools that send dozens of tearful kids home from their lotteries, the East Village school has been handing out flyers in a desperate attempt to increase enrollment…

The school has churned through students, losing one out of five kids each year since it started in 2006. Six principals too have come and gone - even though the school is only beginning its fifth year.

With all the turmoil, Ross Global received the lowest score of any city elementary or middle school on last week's report cards.

"They're the worst school in New York City," said Ross parent Mariama Sanoh, New York Charter Parents Association's vice president. "The fact they're trying to recruit students I find appalling when they can't serve the students they have."

City officials called the numerous openings "very rare" for a charter school…
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A Manhattan charter school is so plagued with discipline issues and a dearth of academic services that students have been fleeing or have been pushed out in record numbers, parents charge. 

This school year alone, 91 of 410 students of those enrolled at Ross Global Academy have left, according to the Department of Education. 

It continues an unprecedented trend in which the East Village elementary and middle school has shed more than 20 percent of its students -- and at least 42 percent of its teachers -- every year since it was founded in 2006.

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After a rocky journey marked by allegations of dystopianism and favoritism and almost too many principals to count, the charter school founded by the millionaire Courtney Ross is moving out of Tweed Courthouse and into a home of its own. That’s happening despite the fact that there is still no resolution to the cheating scandal that hit Ross Global Academy charter school last year, when its principal was pushed out after being investigated for tampering with tests…

A person at Urban Assembly today told me the school is excited to get a new space. “It’s very crowded here,” the person said. “We were supposed to be here for one school year, and it’s already four.”

Ross expects to have more students next year, 384 up from 316 this year, Department of Education spokesman Will Havemann said.
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The city's Department of Education is investigating a charter school housed in its own headquarters building following an allegation that student scores on a state test were doctored.

The person accused of test-tampering, Stephanie Clagnaz, left abruptly as Ross Global Academy's principal in the middle of May. She is at least the fifth head of school to leave Ross Global since it was founded two years ago.

The brainchild of the multimillionaire philanthropist Courtney Ross, the charter school is publicly funded but privately run. It is modeled on an eponymous private school Mrs. Ross runs in the Hamptons.


The Perimeter Primate said...


“…New York City Board of Education investigators say 91 of 410 students at the Ross Global Academy CS have left during this current school year, continuing a trend in which at least 20 percent of its students – and at least 42 percent of its teachers – have left every year since the school’s creation in 2006. Parents have charged that charter operators have encouraged them to withdraw their special-needs children, who can lower a school’s test scores and who cost more to educate…”

The Perimeter Primate said...

NYC Office of Charter Schools Quality Review Report (2008)


...According to the RGA
board minutes, the board chair and board treasurer were in attendance 4 times (50%) and
5 times (62.5%) respectively for the past 8 conducted board meetings.

At the time of this report writing, RGA has witnessed five (5) different school leaders (Mr.
Jon Drescher, Mr. Frank Marchese, the late Mr. Robert Durkin, Dr. Stephanie Clagnaz and
newly appointed principal Ms. Julie Johnson), in the past two years. Positively, however,
Dr. Clagnaz was the school leader for a period of approximately 17 months. This high
turnover at RGA has heightened OCS’ level of concern regarding leadership.

Based on data provided by RGA, for the past two consecutive school years teacher
attrition rate (82% in 06-07; 75% in 07-08), has been generally higher than in most charter
schools. According to some teachers, the majority of school staff and teachers operate
under the ‘fear’ that minor dissent may lead to termination by the school’s board of
trustees. In addition, this claim was also manifested by the principal towards staff with
whom relationships had soured. Some staff members, but not all, expressed that the
board has little, if any, legitimacy...Several conversations with staff revealed that some
view the board as a body controlled solely by the board chair without any challenges by
other board members. The board has set high expectations for school leaders and all
members of the RGA school..