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Charter School for Teen Mothers to Close

A residential charter school for teenage mothers and their children will close in June after just two years because of problems with truancy, curriculum and services for special education students.

MEI Futures Academy, on New Hampshire Avenue N.E. in the Lamont Riggs neighborhood, had its charter revoked last night by the D.C. Public Charter School Board, which cited "material violations" of its operating agreement.

A boarding and day school for teen mothers ages 14 to 21 with a pre-K and kindergarten program for children three to five, MEI had struggled to establish an acceptable curriculum, officials said, adding that none of its high school students were on track for a diploma. Last year, not one of the 15 tenth graders who took the DC-CAS standardized test achieved proficiency levels in either reading or math. Enrollment has dwindled to just 31 students from 66 in fall 2007.

Chronic truancy was an especially serious issue. An unannounced audit earlier this year showed that 17 of the 31 students were not there.

"The idea was wonderful. I wish very much it had succeeded," said board member Dora Marcus.

At a hearing last month, the board heard emotional appeals from some MEI students to keep the school open. But Chairman Tom Nida said last night that the situation had become untenable.

"The school, in my estimation, seems to be operating as a program for teen mothers, not a charter school," he said.

MEI board chairman Craig Edelin said school officials had done the best they could. "We put forth a great effort. But the [charter] board didn't see it that way."

This afternoon, in an extended formal statement, Edelin said:

"The school serves a vital role in our community and I don't know how the DC Public Charter School Board could turn it's back on the students whom are here. We acknowledge we have made mistakes, however our board of trustees and parents have banded together over the past three months and made tremendous improvements to the schools operations. Many of our students desperately need this school to finish their education and gain needed skills to be productive members of society. These girls were given a second chance and now that chance has been taken away. My heart is heavy."

This is the fourth time the charter board has voted to revoke a charter. Five other charter schools have chosen to relinquish their charters rather than go through the revocation process.

Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  April 21, 2009; 3:05 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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Comments

This is such a shame! The girls will now suffer thanks to the bad behavior of adults. I have been sharing this story with women from all walks of life. This is supposed to be the greatest country on the planet yet we treat those who need help the most with the least amount of assistance. Tragic!

Posted by: alstongrp | April 22, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

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