MALDEN - Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll will ask the Board of Education to vote next week to immediately suspend and revoke the charter granted in 2002 to the Roxbury Charter High School for Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship (RCHS). If approved, the school will shut its doors at the start of the winter break next week and will not reopen after the new year.
A letter was sent to leaders of RCHS late Monday to notify them of Driscoll’s recommendation.
“This is not a decision that I take lightly, but closing this school down is absolutely the right thing to do,” Driscoll said. “We as educators have a responsibility to our children, and it is unacceptable to me to leave students in that school any longer than necessary. This school has been in a downward spiral both financially and administratively for some time, and while we have tried to give them time to resolve their issues, the obstacles they face now are too big to overcome. Closing their doors is the best option for everyone.”
This recommendation is based on evidence that the school is not financially viable and does not have a strong enough governance and administrative structure to provide sufficient oversight to the operations of the school. As a result, Driscoll said he fears the 107 students enrolled at the school are simply not getting the education they deserve.
If approved, this would be the first time the Board of Education will have voted an emergency revocation and suspension of an operating school’s charter since the state’s charter school movement began in 1993.
The school received a Commonwealth charter in 2002 and opened in September, 2003. Their curriculum focus is on business, finance and entrepreneurship, and was chartered for grades 9 through 12, with a maximum of 400 students. It is currently in its second year, with an enrollment of 107, rather than the 175 projected on the school’s original growth plan.
Driscoll said his decision was based on several issues:
The school is experiencing significant cash flow problems, due in large part to the school not reaching its enrollment projections. Currently, the school is projecting a deficit of $113,000 for the current year, which could result in the school being forced to close its doors on its own accord later in the current school year.
The school has no viable financial plan for addressing its facility needs. The school is currently leasing a former parochial school; the lease expires at the end of next year. If the school remains at this location, it will need to address significant ADA compliance issues as well as expand the facility to accommodate its planned enrollment.
The school has had serious governance problems, leading DOE officials to conclude that the school’s Board of Trustees has not provided effective oversight to properly address the major issues facing the school.
The school has failed to implement required procedures and programs relating to special education and English language immersion.
The school is not complying with state and federal requirements regarding student record keeping and documentation of Title I eligibility.
DOE officials have been in contact with the Boston Public Schools, and have been assured that seats will be made available after the new year for any RCHS students who choose to enroll in Boston.
“I know that this may be a difficult transition for some, but what matters most to me that our students get the best possible education in our schools," Driscoll said. "This is what’s best for these kids.”
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Roxbury Charter High School
COMMISSIONER TO RECOMMEND IMMEDIATE CLOSURE OF ROXBURY CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL; Tuesday, December 14, 2004; Massachussets Department of Elementary & Secondary Education press release