SAISD Superintendent Poised to Recommend Charter Takeover of Stewart ES
Will your campus be next? We must take a stand together now to stop the chain charter invasion of SAISD. Once the fox is in the hen house, all IR campuses will be at risk. And once the IR campuses have been taken over, other campuses will become targets as well. Don’t forget to wear Alliance blue!
WHAT: Rally in support of Stewart ES and REAL public schools and support for our speakers at SAISD Board Meeting
WHEN: Mon., Jan. 22
RALLY: 4:30-5:00 PM
BOARD MTG: 5:30 PM
WHERE: Burnet Center, 406 Barrera St.
The SAISD superintendent will propose that Democracy Prep (a chain charter from New York City) take over the operation of Stewart ES. Under the plan, campus instructional staff would be employed by Democracy Prep, not SAISD. The chain charter also seeks a long-term contract with the district (7-10 years), eventually culminating in a K-12 feeder.
Impact on students:
Democracy Prep is known to have high suspension rates and high attrition rates due to their regressive, questionable disciplinary methods. Very minor behavior infractions, such as a hand improperly raised or an untucked shirt, may result in demerits and suspension. This approach directly contradicts SAISD’s plans to move toward a student behavior framework that emphasizes restorative practices.
Democracy Prep schools in NYC tend to have fewer students with IEPs, many fewer ELLs, and fewer kids in poverty than the districts in which they are located. How will they meet our Stewart students’ needs? Will they serve our special ed students, our ELL students, our students with challenging behaviors or try to push them out via their regressive discipline practices?
Even though 35-40% of Stewart students are bilingual, Democracy Prep WILL NOT be offering a bilingual program (source: SAISD Board Meeting Agenda). Democracy Prep uses a “sheltered English immersion” program, which is a form of English-only education.
Impact on teachers and staff:
Like virtually all chain charters, Democracy Prep has no contracts for their staff. All teachers and instructional staff would be at-will employees, meaning they could be fired at any time for any reason or for no reason at all. They could be fired for reasons that have nothing to do with performance, such as student enrollment at the school being low. How will this best serve Stewart students and the surrounding community? Chain charters generally have high teacher and staff turnover. How can our students and their families build the vital relationships with teachers and staff if there is a revolving door of staff from year to year?
Democracy Prep would not have to abide by SAISD Board Policies or with SAISD Administrative Procedures. Is this an attempt to use charters to erode employee safeguards?
Lack of transparency:
SAISD Board members visited Democracy Prep in NYC in October. Democracy Prep posted an opening for an executive director for the San Antonio Region on Jan. 10. But SAISD officials did not meet with Stewart staff and with Stewart parents to inform them about the proposed takeover until Thurs., Jan. 18. The notice to parents regarding the parent meeting was not sent home until Jan. 17. Where is the transparency? Why weren’t the staff and parents allowed any input into the plan for their school?
Our schools are the public’s schools. That’s who they belong to. Where is the authentic engagement with the community and the parents who the school serves?
Relevant state law:
Under state law, after a campus has been rated as unacceptable (IR) for five consecutive years, the Commissioner of Education must close the school or appoint a board of managers to govern the school district. Additionally, a new law, that was just passed last legislative session, allows for a district to partner with either an “open-enrollment charter school” or, with the approval of the Commissioner, a non-profit, institute of higher education, or governmental entity to operate the school. So, the district does not have to partner with a charter organization. We believe there are other options that have not been pursued.