The host of a local learning center vows to continue serving students after the sponsoring charter school’s directors voted Tuesday to surrender the charter.
“These kids have to be educated here,” the Rev. Joseph McGauley III said. “It was not our site that failed.”
McGauley’s Jefferson Memorial First Born Church in the Prospect section of Johnstown hosted a local center for Frontier Virtual Charter School during the beleaguered cyber school’s first year.
On Thursday, Frontier’s board of trustees voted unanimously to begin negotiations to surrender its charter to the state Education Department.
The charter issue was the only item on the agenda for the public meeting, which lasted less then six minutes. Board members, attorneys, the school’s chief executive officer and media representatives were able to participate by teleconference.
Frontier’s troubles came to light in March when state officials arrived at the school’s Philadelphia headquarters for a scheduled visit.
Despite two months’ warning, school leaders did not provide the review team with access to Frontier’s teachers, the documents said.
“Today’s action is in the best interest of students and provides families sufficient time to make other arrangements for the upcoming school year,” Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis said Thursday.
“Over the past year, Frontier fell short in providing its students with the core academic programs parents and students expect of our public schools,” Tomalis said. “These issues were not just the normal difficulties typically experienced by a first-year organization, but they go to the heart of Frontier’s ability to provide quality educational opportunities to students within the confines of its charter, as well as the Charter School Law.”
Thursday’s vote begins a “winding down process” to shut down Frontier’s operation, the organization’s attorney said after the meeting.
“One of the issues is how to satisfy outstanding creditors of the organization, to the extent that is possible,” attorney Brian Leinhauser of West Chester said, noting the school’s serious financial difficulties.
McGauley said he is keeping Frontier Chief Executive Officer John Craig in his prayers, but plans to find another sponsor for his local education support center.
“We have been in touch with other cyber schools,” McGauley said. “I talked to several today.”
McGauley plans to have the Jefferson Memorial First Born Church’s center open for the start of the 2012-2013 school year.
The center is valuable because it caters to students who have trouble learning in the public school environment and lack the support for education at home, McGauley said.
“The kids are going to be disappointed,” McGauley said.
“The public school is failing these kids. They don’t feel safe. We provide a safe haven for these kids.”
Students attending the First Born Church Center are held accountable for attendance and homework completion, McGauley said. Those were areas the Education Department cited in announcing earlier this week it was revoking Frontier’s charter.
But the center also provides a hot lunch, adult supervision and student interaction while learning, McGauley said.
“We can’t make it in this world alone,” he said. “The kids here were doing fine. The parents are pleased.”
Factors behind Frontier Virtual Charter School’s charter forfeit:
• Failure to provide or reimburse students for all equipment, technology and services necessary for the online delivery of curriculum and instruction.
• Failure to properly monitor student attendance, work progress, truancy and grades.
• Failure to maintain the financial ability to provide services required by the Charter School Law.
• One or more material violations of the conditions, standards or procedures contained in its written charter.
• Failure to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management or audit requirements.
• Blatant violation of the Charter School Law.