"Case of Boys Prep shows charter schools face same startup challenges." The City Paper (TN), 6/21/2013
Dozens of students have left the school. Parents have accused the executive director of assaulting two students. And although the year-end test scores have yet to be released, school leaders say they won’t be pretty...Rivalries within the leadership at the school shifted attention from the kids in the building to the adults in the boardroom. Meanwhile, handling the school’s 100 seventh-grade boys — a third of whom have some form of learning disability — proved tougher than the founders fathomed...The Boys Prep board also began hemorrhaging members. In the charter’s short history, 18 people have left the board, some of whom said they felt forced out or were exhausted from dealing with the school’s internal politics.
While The City Paper reached out to current and former members of the Boys Prep board, many never responded, and almost all who did reply refused to talk about their experience on the record, if at all. That includes Monica Davis, an instructor at MTSU who resigned from the board this month after finishing two-thirds of her three-year term. She, too, refused to comment.“The turnover that they’ve had is primarily related to their inability to settle on strong leadership and consistent board leadership at the beginning,” said Alan Coverstone, MNPS’ charter school guru and the executive director of the district’s Office of Innovation, which oversees charters.“Lots of groups have good ideas about what a school would look like, but actually running a school is a bigger challenge,” he said. “This is a startup organization. It’s a school. It’s a nonprofit. It’s a lot of things all at once. If you don’t have a pretty good board collegiality — and a pretty good board understanding of how organizations work — it’s a big red flag that we look for,” he said.That red flag waved high shortly before Boys Prep opened its doors. Three months ahead of the first day of school, Kennedy narrowly survived a no-confidence vote from the Boys Prep school board...In the meantime, two teachers provided by the Teach for America alternative teaching certification program left the school for more stable gigs elsewhere, leaving Boys Prep suddenly short on staff...Concerned with possible tinkering with test scores and other misconduct, Kennedy fired the popular school principal, the third since the school’s inception.While the school board backed the move, it was the first in a series of events that would eventually lead to the founder being ousted from the school...At least 39 of the 100 students who started with Boys Prep left last school year, and 16 others entered. The number of students cycling out gives the school one of the highest attrition rates in the district. Braddock said he counseled some boys out of the school because it was a good move for those individuals at the time, but would urge them to consider coming back...
“Charter School Leader Comes Under Fire Over Discipline Methods.” NewsChannel5 (TN), 2/12/2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tempers got heated Tuesday night at a charter school board meeting in South Nashville where parents say enough is enough. The founder and president of Nashville Boys Prep has come under fire for his methods of discipline during the first semester of the school year.Tuesday night's meeting went on for three hours. The vast majority of that meeting focused on allegations against Dr. Martin Kennedy. He's been on administrative leave from the school since December.That's when DCS and Metro Police opened an investigation into accusations of abuse. Several parents made their case in front of the board Tuesday night...DCS has completed its investigation and the agency found the allegations into the accusations of abuse against Kennedy to be unfounded. Metro Police still haven't come to a conclusion in their case.Dr. Kennedy told NewsChannel 5 he fully expects to be reinstated as president of Boys Prep.
“DCS investigating Nashville charter school founder.” WSMV (TN), 12/19/2012
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The leader of a Nashville charter school is facing investigation over claims he assaulted two students.Police and the Department of Children's Services are interviewing students and teachers to find out whether Dr. Martin Kennedy went too far when it comes to discipline at Boys Preparatory Charter School."I do not feel this individual is stable at all to be around kids. He has no self control, by no means," said school parent Lynn Mullins.Mullins said her seventh-grade son is scared to go back to Boys Prep after, she claims, he was assaulted by Kennedy...Marciecilla Giddens said her son was also attacked by the same teacher...Both mothers have filed police reports, claiming Kennedy - a teacher and the founder of the small south Nashville charter school - took discipline too far...Neither police nor DCS has commented on the investigation into the parents' allegations...Also, according to that board member, Kennedy is no longer teaching in the classroom, but as founder of the school, he still has an affiliation with the school...
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