, Gloucester, MA

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October 16, 2013

Letter: Charter school brought failure on itself

To the editor:

Last week, the State Auditor’s Office released its report on the failure of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School (GCACS).

This report identified three major reasons for the school’s closure: “deficiencies in Board governance, management, and financial practices.”

The Gloucester Daily Times’ editorial of Oct. 10, however, added a new reason, without referring to any evidence: “And at least some of those (enrollment) shortfalls were due to intimidation by public school parents and others who carried out consistent attacks and scare tactics, discouraging students from choosing the charter option.”

Opponents of the GCACS certainly spoke publicly about its shortcomings, and about its huge negative impact on the city’s budget. But this never approached “intimidation,” “attacks,” or “scare tactics.” It was simply public discourse.

Further, it is clear that these public statements of fact did not “intimidate” or “scare” the hundreds of parents who went ahead and enrolled their children in the school anyway. In fact, students enrolled in sufficient numbers to ensure the GCACS’ financial viability, had the school simply managed to retain them.

Instead, dissatisfaction with the school’s leadership, its remarkable staff turnover, and the poor education these students received as a result, led many parents to pull their children from the school. These parents who chose to send their kids to the GCACS, then chose to pull them, were the difference between financial viability and abrupt early closure.

As the state auditor’s report details, the GCACS failed in every phase of its operation, exhibiting poor leadership and sub-standard education every step of the way.

The school’s ultimate failure hangs entirely on its leaders, and not in any way on those who pointed out its shortcomings.



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