Thanks to the work of a broad community coalition, Schools and Communities United (SCU), the Milwaukee Common Council’s Steering and Rules Committee, the city charter Northpoint Lighthouse Academy will be closing at the end of the current school year. This city charter was a textbook example of why privately run charters, operated outside of the elected school board, are bad for students and taxpayers.
Northpoint was part of a privately run charter chain, co-owned by former tennis star Andre Agassi. The chain received immediate disapproval for choosing to place the school in an abandoned steel processing plant:
“There are a lot of issues as it concerns the health and safety and welfare for the children. In this case, we’ve got a power tower and transmission lines in the backyard of this facility,” Marva Herndon said.
For over a year, SCU has been calling for the closure of the Northpoint and other poorly performing city charter schools. As the coalition noted, the school never provided a stable environment for the families and students it served, as indicated in this 2014 SCU report.
• Of 14 classroom teachers to start in September 2013, 7 remained the entire year. Of the 7 vacancies, 2 were refilled during the year and 5 were left unfilled. Also, 2 out of 4 ‘other instructional staff’ remained the entire year.
• At the end of the 2013-14 year, three teachers did not have a DPI license.
• In interviews with Charter School Review Committee consultant, teachers noted a “lack of concrete disciplinary policies,” “lack of instructional support, coaching and teacher accountability,” and “minimal communication and involvement with parents.”
At the January 27th Charter School Review Board meeting the decision was made to close Northpoint at the end of the current school year. This is a definite win for public education advocates. However, supporters of public education must still be vigilant, as illustrated by Milwaukee’s recent experience with King’s Academy. King’s Academy was put on probation for poor performance, but instead of risking being shut down, its administration declared that it would cease to operate as a city charter and would instead re-enter the voucher program. Rather than being closed, it escaped accountability for its poor performance. Let’s hope that Northpoint does not try the same ruse.
Live and Recorded Public meetings of CHARTER SCHOOL REVIEW COMMITTEE on 2016-01-27 5:30 PM for The City of Milwaukee, WI