APS charter school review team backs Leadership high schools - Albuquerque Journal

APS charter school review team backs Leadership high schools

Albuquerque Public Schools staff has recommended that the board of education approve three of the four low-performing charter schools seeking to switch from state to district control.

Architecture Construction and Engineering Leadership High School, Health Leadership High School and Technology Leadership High School — all members of the Leadership Schools Network — received the district’s backing. Academy of Trades & Technology was not recommended for authorization.

The district’s support did come with some caveats: The Leadership schools were recommended for three-year terms, rather than the typical five years, and they must meet a number of goals, such as boosting participation in assessments.

APS board members will consider the schools during the policy and instruction committee meeting at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski told the Journal that APS should not back the schools because their results are so poor.

“After more than five years of visiting the school sites, monitoring progress, and conducting a full academic analysis, we can safely say that the Public Education Department would not have landed in the same place,” Ruszkowski said in a statement. “It’s hard to justify how charter schools earning multiple failing grades in a row and drawing significant taxpayer resources without getting tangible results for kids can go authorizer shopping. It’s even harder to justify how another authorizer would interpret that multi-year track record as a rationale for renewal for some schools, but not others. It’s now totally unclear where APS stands on the health of the charter school sector.”

Ruszkowski has claimed that the schools want to decamp for APS because they know PED would likely not support their charter renewal applications at the Public Education Commission.

Each has earned a string of D or F grades and test scores are dismal.

Joseph Escobedo, APS charter school director, declined to comment on individual schools, but said the district conducts thorough reviews based on multiple factors including academic performance, finances and strategic plans.

“These complicated recommendations follow a solid process that is aligned to New Mexico State Statute and national best practices,” he said in a statement.

Daniel Ivey-Soto, an attorney who represents the three Leadership Schools, argued that the schools are looking for an authorizer that is supportive and communicative, not shopping for a “free pass.”

He said it was unfair for Ruszkowski to declare that the PED would not have backed the schools’ reauthorization without actually conducting a formal review.

Academy of Trades & Technology Principal Karen S. Griego-Sanchez referred comment to governing council vice president Dick Winterbottom, who could not be reached Monday afternoon. He previously told the Journal that the school is offering kids a second chance at success.

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