P.S. 1 Charter School

…Founded in 1995, P.S. 1 serves 237 middle- or high-school students who have struggled elsewhere — academically, socially or both. One out of ten was pushed out of his or her old school, while one in seven dropped out. One out of every five kids at P.S. 1 has a history of repeated school suspensions, and one in three is involved with the courts. The academic challenges are just as daunting: 25 percent of students qualify for special education, and 75 percent are behind in reading and math.

"One hundred percent of our population comes because another school hasn't worked for them," says P.S. 1 principal Laura Laffoon.

But P.S. 1 hasn't worked, either, at least according to Denver Public Schools. In late November, the DPS board voted to shutter the school, where test scores have been dismal for years. The decision, which will take effect in the summer of 2011, was part of an effort to turn around low-performing schools; DPS is also closing other schools, including Skyland Community High School, another struggling charter serving at-risk kids. And it marks the first time DPS has rescinded a charter because of poor academic performance, a move experts say is important if the state wants a shot at winning millions of dollars in Obama-administration grants set aside for school reform…

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