Texas will shut down 14 charter school operators that failed to meet heightened financial and academic performance rules this year, state education officials announced Tuesday.
The action comes as a result of a provision in a 2013 law aimed at expanding the presence of charter schools in the state. The law requires the Texas Education Agency to revoke a school's charter if it fails to meet state academic or financial accountability ratings for three years. Lawmakers passed the law known as Senate Bill 2 to quickly free up limited state contracts for high-performing operators by severing ties with low-performing ones.
Among the charters facing closure: the Henry Ford Academy Alameda School for Art and Design in San Antonio, Girls & Boys Preparatory in Houston, the Faith Family Academy of Oak Cliff, and the Ignite Public Schools and Community Service Centers, which has campuses across the Rio Grande Valley.
For a full list, go here.
The Texas Charter School Association, whose membership includes most of the charter schools in the state, supported the law when it passed. In a statement released Tuesday, executive director David Dunn said it was important to close schools that weren't meeting the needs of students.
But he said that the Texas Education Agency should "get the implementation of SB 2 right."
"Charter schools not only meet the same accountability of our traditional school counterparts, they are held to a higher standard," he said. "In order to protect the 200,000 public charter school students and families, the charter revocation process must include a fair review."
Dunn added that the closing of underperforming schools was "just one feature" of the new charter school law.
"The commissioner also has the responsibility to expand strong, existing charters and to bring new, effective charters in. I'm anxious to see that happen for the 100,000 students waiting for a seat at a public charter school," he said.
Charter schools facing mandatory closure cannot appeal the decision in court, but they may request an informal review that could lead to a reversal of the revocation. Some charter operators have argued the closure process does not account for a full picture of a school's financial or academic health — unfairly dinging them on technicalities and stifling practices that should be encouraged.
A lawsuit brought by three charter operators targeted for closure last year challenging the constitutionality of the new law was unsuccessful. One of those operators, Honors Academy, remained open for the 2014-15 school year anyways, continuing to publicize itself as an accredited public school.