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Topic: First Place Scholars Charter School

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February 13, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Charter commission head: More questions could have been asked

A classroom at First Place Charter School in Seattle. Photo by Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times 2014.

A classroom at First Place Charter School in Seattle. Photo by Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times 2014.

The state board governing charter schools heard an update Thursday on First Place Scholars, the state’s first charter school, which has run into a string of problems since opening in the fall.

Under a new probe launched last week, First Place has until Feb. 17 to supply a long list of documents assuring the state it has enough money to keep its doors open for the rest of the school year and that it is following the educational program it promised when applying for public money. If First Place can’t do so, the commission may close the school.

Steve Sundquist, the commission’s chairman, talked Thursday about First Place and the process the commission uses to vet charters, which are publicly funded, independently run public schools.

While Sundquist said he feels good about how the commission has selected which charter applicants to approve, he also said the commission could have looked closer at First Place, which previously operated as a private school in Seattle for 25 years. The commission did not ask for detailed financial records from the nonprofit backing the school.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: charter schools, First Place Scholars Charter School

December 17, 2014 at 5:21 PM

State’s first charter school on probation; timeline set for fixes

A state commission overseeing charter schools on Wednesday released a series of deadlines for improvements to the state’s first charter school, First Place Scholars in Seattle, which has floundered since classes began in September.

By Jan. 5, the school must hire an interim special education director, to replace a contractor who quit in late October. Currently, no First Place teacher is qualified to work with some two dozen kids who qualify for help with special needs.

And by this Friday, the school must describe how it  has been meeting those kids’ needs since the contractor left.

The deadlines are part of ongoing negotiations between the commission and First Place following the commission’s rejection of the school’s improvement plan last week. Not only did the school fail to turn in its proposed fixes on time, it hardly addressed any of the commission’s concerns, the commission said in a letter to the school Tuesday.

As a result, the school is now on probation, meaning commission staff will visit monthly to make sure the school is following  its charter, a contract that allows First Place to operate as a publicly funded, privately run institution, similar to thousands of charter schools in nearly every other state across the country.

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Comments | Topics: charter, charter schools, First Place

December 15, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Seattle charter school plan to be public Tuesday

A Seattle charter school’s plan to fix a slew of problems will be made public Tuesday, according to the head of the state commission governing charter schools.

Joshua Halsey, the commission’s executive director, initially said the plan and the commission’s response to it would be available to the public Monday. He said Monday the documents will be published Tuesday.

On Thursday, the commission rejected the school’s corrective action plan, saying it was deficient and submitted late.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: charter schools, First Place Scholars Charter School, Joshua Halsey