Parents vent charter school frustrations after many students retained
BAKER - Angry parents spoke their minds Tuesday evening at a public feedback meeting held at Advantage Charter Academy. Three weeks ago, the parents of about 100 students were notified they would be retained but the school quickly reversed their decision.
Many students had passed their classes but had failed standardized tests for reading comprehension. Administrators said they reversed their decision to retain students because they had failed to notify parents early on as is required by the school handbook.
"We were supposed to notify parents before January that their children were in risk of failing," said Director of School Quality Ronnie Harrison.
Harrison said the school will continue to put a strong focus on reading comprehension next year but will work harder to communicate with parents when students fall behind. This year, about one out of every six students was almost held back in the charter school that has grades K-8.
Advantage Charter opened in 2014 and many parents Tuesday said the school was doing great until this year. Along with the high retainment rate, a teacher was arrested in December for allegedly hitting students followed by a bomb threat that parents felt was mishandled.
A number of parents at Tuesday's meeting openly blamed Principal Ashley Chavis for mismanagement. She took over at Advantage in October.
Harrison said Chavis would continue on as the principal but emphasized communication with parents would improve.
"You have so many choices [of schools]," said Harrison. "Give us an opportunity to show you we can be great and we can fix the problem with the communication."
Advantage is operated by National Heritage Academies which has a total of three charter schools in Louisiana and dozens throughout the country.