Charter schools on notice from state board for low graduation rates

The State Public Charter School Authority issued formal notices Friday of intent to revoke the written charters or reconstitute the governing bodies of Nevada Connections Academy and Discovery Charter School.

The Authority’s action is a result of the charter schools’ performances. Per Nevada law, a charter school can face closure or the reconstitution of its governing body if its graduation rate slips below 60 percent. The same sanctions can be taken against a charter school that’s among the bottom 5 percent of all elementary and middle schools statewide.

Nevada Connections Academy, a distance education charter school, had a graduation rate of roughly 40 percent for the 2015-2016 academic year and received a letter from the Authority on Feb. 10 regarding their status.

Discovery Charter School, located in Las Vegas,  performs in the bottom 5 percent of elementary and middle schools, according to the Nevada Department of Education and also received a letter from the Authority regarding their status.

The schools will remain open at least through the end of the current academic year. The earliest they could close is after the last day of school for students. The reconstitution of their governing bodies could happen immediately following public hearings scheduled for each school.

“The Authority recognizes that for many families, these schools may present their only public school choice beyond their local zoned school,” Authority Executive Director Patrick Gavin said in a statement. “Any closure—but especially a mid-year closure—is disruptive to families and to local school districts and we wish to ensure that parents and students have as much time as possible to make appropriate arrangements if the schools do not meet the expectations of the Authority Board.”

A notice of intent is the first step in the accountability process, meaning the schools have an opportunity to make  improvements to the satisfaction of their sponsor.

The schools’ corrective actions will be reviewed during a public hearing, at which time a determination will be made about whether improvements adequately address the deficiencies, officials said. The public hearing will be posted on the Authority’s website.

Feature photo from Nevada State Public Charter School Authority website.