D.C. Public Schools Plans to Take Over All-Girls Charter School in Southeast

by: Micha Green The AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor [email protected]
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Caption: Excel Academy Public Charter School in Southeast will continue this semester as a charter school and reopen in the 2017-2018 school year as a traditional D.C. public school.

Amid their own issues and reporting scandals, the traditional District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) system has decided it is best to take over an all-girls charter school in Southeast, Washington, D.C., Excel Academy Public Charter School, which had their license taken for poor performance, according to The Washington Post.

Excel Academy Public Charter School in Southeast will continue this semester as a charter school and reopen in the 2017-2018 school year as a traditional D.C. public school.

Last school year only 9 percent of Excel students met or exceeded expectations in math, compared with 27 percent citywide.  Compared with 31 percent citywide, 19 percent of Excel students met or exceeded expectations in English.

With 700 students from preschool to eighth grade, Excel will finish this semester as a charter school, and reopen in the fall as a DCPS.

All current students will be welcomed back to re-enroll in the newly coined public school, yet it is unclear how many teachers and administrators will remain and be affected by the transition.

The decision for Excel to become a DCPS comes after the D.C. Public Charter School Board voted in January to strip the institution of its charters, because students were reportedly behind their peers without the school showing impressive evidence of improvement.  After the January decision, the school’s leaders had to find a new operator in order to keep Excel open and operational as an institution.

Interim DCPS Chancellor, Amanda Alexander, expressed excitement about Excel joining the public school system.  “We are thrilled that Excel is joining the DCPS community,” Alexander wrote in an email to the Post.  “We’re working diligently to ensure the students that will be able to remain in place for at least the next school year.”

Although a rare occurrence, it is not uncustomary for DCPS to take over for charter schools, as in the case with Petworth’s Community Academy Public Charter School.  Because of financial mismanagement, DCPS assumed control of Community Academy in 2015 and renamed it Dorothy Height Elementary School.

Despite their intervention to help the institution, there are certain organizations and people who are concerned about DCPS stepping in to help the all-girls institution.

Some parents, who were avoiding enrolling their children in DCPS in the middle of their own problems, are reticent about Excel’s transition.

“I wasn’t the biggest fan of the DCPS system,” Charise Clayton told The Washington Post. Clayton’s two young daughters attend Excel.  “After talking with the school and different people that represent both sides, we’re going to give it a chance and see how things go,” Clayton said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also takes issue with Excel becoming a DCPS, saying the school system is violating federal and city laws by having a same-sex public institution.

DCPS opened its first all-male public school, Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in 2016, causing uproar from the ACLU.

Executive Director of the ACLU’s D.C. Chapter, Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, said that while an all-girls school is being welcomed in the traditional school system, it does not change the organization’s stance on publicly funded single-gendered institutions.  She is encouraging families to take legal action if DCPS rejects their daughter from Ron Brown or son from Excel.

“The issue still remains that segregated schools reinforce single-sex stereotypes and promote sexism,” Hopkins-Maxwell told the Washington Post.

Excel’s transition from a charter school to a DCPS comes at an integral time when the District is trying to sway residents to have faith and enroll their children in the public school system.

According to a report released by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, enrollment in District public schools decreased by 400 students between October 2016 and 2017.