|For Immediate Release|
|Tuesday, June 11, 2002|
|Contact:||Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106 or Jonathan Palumbo 781-338-3105|
Preliminary Decision Rejects LCCS’ Claim Its Charter Should Be Renewed
MALDEN - Officials from the Lynn Community Charter School failed to convince a hearing officer that a Board of Education decision should be overturned and that the school’s charter should be renewed, according to a preliminary decision released Tuesday.
The decision came from hearing officer Judy A. Levenson, who oversaw a five-day hearing in May regarding renewal of the school’s charter. This came after the Board voted 7-2 in February not to issue a second five-year charter to the school.
"The School has failed to demonstrate by a preponderance of the credible evidence that its academic program is a success, that the School is a viable organization and that the School has been faithful to the terms of its charter," she wrote in her initial decision. "Accordingly, the School has failed to demonstrate that it has satisfied the criteria for renewal of its Charter."
Over the course of the hearing, Lynn school officials attempted to prove that the state’s charter school renewal regulation and administrative guidelines were "vague," and that the decision-making process is unfair.
Levenson rejected all of the school’s arguments, finding instead the school failed to demonstrate that the process was flawed in any way, and concluded that the state’s regulations and guidelines are valid.
Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll said that while he had expected the DOE’s review process to be upheld, the preliminary decision did not warrant celebration.
"This is not a happy day," he said. "Many parents, teachers and others put a great deal of effort into the creation of this charter school. Unfortunately, in this case, the lack of student improvement could not be denied."
The Board, Commissioner Driscoll and officials in the charter school office look to answer three questions when evaluating a charter school for renewal: Is the academic program a success? Is the school a viable organization? Is the school faithful to the terms of its charter? For LCCS, the answer to all three questions was no.
Levenson’s decision will now be sent to Board of Education members, who will take a final vote on the issue at their next meeting.
If the Board adopts Levenson’s decision, the school will be required to close its doors at the end of the current school year. Commissioner Driscoll has conferred with Lynn officials to ensure the school’s students will have a smooth transition into the Lynn Public Schools in the fall.
This is the first time the Board of Education has voted to not renew a school’s charter since the state’s first charter school opened in 1995. The state’s charter school statute was enacted in 1993, and there are 42 charter schools currently in operation in Massachusetts. Another five are scheduled to open this fall.