State Board of Education Releases Reports on Knowledge Academy Appeals
On Thursday, the Executive Director of the State Board of Education (SBE), Dr. Sara Morrison, released the reports of her findings on the charter revocation appeals for Knowledge Academy, KA @ The Crossings, and Knowledge Academy High School; her recommendation to the State Board is to overturn the revocation decisions of the Metro Nashville Board of Education for these three schools.
Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.) § 49-13-122 allows a charter school governing board whose charter agreement has been revoked by a local board of education to appeal that decision to the SBE. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 49-13-122 and State Board Policy 6.110, the State Board staff conducts a de novo, on the record review of the local board of education’s decision, collects information from the local board of education and the charter school operator, and holds a public hearing to gather evidence from the charter school operator and the local school district.
SBE staff began the review process for the appeals under Knowledge Academies in September 2019, during which they examined the 14 reasons cited by the Metro Nashville Board of Education to revoke the three charter agreements.
After a de novo review of the evidence and documentation, Dr. Morrison and the SBE staff determined that the Metro Nashville Board of Education erred in its decision to revoke the charter agreements because:
- 8 of the 14 reasons cited by the Metro Nashville Board of Education did not have sufficient evidence to be substantiated or to merit revocation.
- 6 of the 14 reasons cited by the Metro Nashville Board of Education showed sufficient evidence to be substantiated but did not merit revocation.
Further, the SBE staff found that prior to the board vote, the MNPS Office of Charter Schools was working closely with the three schools as recently as April 2019 to implement corrective action plans, including placing the schools on probation. However, in a matter of days after the district office notified the schools of plans for probation, the MNPS Board of Education chose to accelerate the process toward revocation without giving the charter schools notice of the issues or an opportunity to remedy them. The decision of the MNPS Board of Education deviated from the process outlined in the district’s intervention procedures for its charter schools and lacked clear and compelling evidence of issues that merited revocation.
In order to overturn the decision of the local board of education on the revocation of a charter agreement, the State Board must find that the local board’s decision to revoke the charter agreement was contrary to T.C.A. § 49-13-122, which allows local boards of education to revoke a charter agreement for material violations of the charter agreement, failure to make academic progress, and fiscal mismanagement. It is important for the SBE to consider whether or not any of the issues cited in a revocation appeal meet the bar for revocation pursuant to T.C.A. § 49-13-122.
The Executive Director’s reports recommend remanding the charter agreements back to the Metro Nashville Board of Education and suggest that the local district place the Knowledge Academies charter schools on probationary status as originally recommended by the MNPS Office of Charter Schools.
Members of the Board will vote on the revocation appeals on Monday, October 28, 2019, during a conference call meeting. SBE staff will present the Executive Director’s reports and the findings to board members before the final vote.
Meeting materials, including the executive director’s reports, are available on the State Board of Education website.
The Tennessee State Board of Education is a ten-member, governor-appointed and legislatively confirmed board charged under the law with rulemaking and policymaking for K-12 education. Through a close partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education, the Board maintains oversight in K-12 implementation and academic standards.