GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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December 11, 2012

Chairman says charter school will appeal revocation

State board slated to vote on revocation Tuesday

The chairman of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School said Tuesday he expects to be authorized by his board to appeal an expected vote by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to revoke its charter.

The state board meets Tuesday and is expected to follow the advice of Mitchell D. Chester, articulated in a nine-page, single-spaced memo last Friday, to revoke the charter, which would end the experiment in charter schooling in Gloucester at the end of the 2013 spring term, and return about 100 students to the public schools.

The Gloucester board would have 15 days following formal written notice of any decision to revoke by the state to file its notice of appeal, according to J.C. Considine, spokesman for the state board.

In a telephone interview, charter school board Chairman James Caviston described Chester’s move against the school as “unprecedented and unwarranted.” Except for egregious behavior or manifest failure, Caviston said the state’s policy has wisely been to give charter schools five years, the extent of the grant of the charter, to prove themselves; Gloucester Community Arts has only been open three years.

“This is unprecedented because we are in the middle of the five-year plan, and it is unwarranted because we don’t fit the model” for schools that have their charters revoked within the first five years, Caviston said.

Considine said the state twice has revoked charters within the five years allowed, once in 1998, and again in 2004 with the decision to close the Roxbury Charter High School.

Seventy-seven charter schools are operating in the commonwealth, he said, and four charters over the years have been revoked.

The Times was unable to learn details about the causes for the 1998 decision to revoke a first five-year charter; however, minutes of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from May 24, 2005, reflect a decision against rescinding the vote to revoke Roxbury Charter High School’s charter, which was based on “looming insolvency, governance chaos, and persistent educational deficiency.”

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