Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
La Resolana Leadership Academy is scheduled to close July 1 after a split Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education voted Monday not to approve the charter that allows it to operate.
A 4-3 vote on the middle school’s charter came after the APS Office of Innovation and School Choice found it had “several violations of federal and state law regarding special education compliance” during a site visit this year.
The office’s special education liaison found a lack of data reporting, noted the special education coordinator wasn’t a certified special education teacher and found issues with individualized education programs — personalized accounts of progress, needs and goals for each student receiving special education services.
After deliberating for about an hour Monday, the majority of board members voted not to renew the charter, including board President David Peercy.
“They haven’t been doing special education the way they are supposed to do and they didn’t have a plan that would satisfy it,” he told the Journal.
The board had deferred a decision in May to give the school time to finalize an improvement plan.
Board member Barbara Petersen, who also voted not to approve the charter, said there have been “continuous issues” with La Resolana and that she felt the next steps put forward by the school were “questionable.”
Others who voted not to renew the charter were Yolanda Montoya-Cordova and Candelaria “Candy” Patterson.
The school at 230 Truman St. NE had been on track to close after the board denied its request for a charter in December 2016, citing a roughly $200,000 debt. But in February 2017 the board voted to approve a one-year contract.
Petersen said the relationship between a charter and the district requires a level of trust that the charter will fulfill its contract, adding she didn’t have sufficient trust in the school to vote for renewal this time.
“I think it was a hard decision because it’s always hard to talk about closing a school,” Peercy said about the narrow vote.
Elizabeth Armijo, Lorenzo Garcia and Peggy Muller-Aragón voted to keep the school open.
“Even though the board was split on their decisions, we are all in agreement that our children deserve the best education possible,” said Armijo. “We will continue to work together through tough conversations to ensure that we are addressing all the needs of our children.”
Both Peercy and Deborah Elder, the district’s executive director of the Office of Innovation and School Choice, noted APS would be working with the families of La Resolana students to get them enrolled in new schools. Elder said each student is guaranteed a spot at their neighborhood school.
The school reported it had 62 students registered for the next school year, according to Joseph Escobedo, the senior director of the Office of Innovation.
As for the teachers who work there — which Escobedo says is about five — they will have to go through the application process through APS again and are not guaranteed a position in the district.
Escobedo said the school may appeal to the state Public Education Department within 30 days.
Principal Justina Montoya could not be reached for questions, including whether the school would appeal.