State Board of Education votes to uphold decision to close Memphis charter school

Updated: Jan. 6, 2020 at 5:11 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Tennessee State Board of Education on Monday unanimously voted to uphold Shelby County Schools’ revocation of Southwest Early College High School’s charter.

The vote comes after the board’s executive director recommended upholding the decision by SCS to close the charter school.

“It is evident that SECHS has experienced significant issues in the past year under its current administration, and despite its efforts to correct issues…I recommend that the State Board uphold the revocation decision of the SCS Board of Education effective at the end of the 2019‐20 school year,” Dr. Sara Heyburn Morrison, the executive director of the Tennessee State Board of Education wrote in her report.

Last fall, SCS board members voted 5-3 to close the school, citing several problems. SCS said its investigation found Southwest relied on uncertified teachers and failed to provide services to students with special needs.

The charter school also lost its partnership with Southwest Tennessee Community College (STCC).

Southwest school leaders appealed SCS’s decision to close their charter school to the state. At a public hearing in December, Southwest leaders said they fixed the problems and even found a new partnership with Bethel University.

SCS responded, saying Southwest did not provide any evidence that a new partnership would fix the problem.

Morrison agreed with SCS.

“While SECHS did attempt to rectify this issue by seeking a new post-secondary partner, the options presented by SECHS would not allow the school to live up to the school’s mission and goals or its academic plan,” wrote Morrison.

More than 130 students currently attend Southwest and will have to find a new school when the school closes in May.

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