Frustrated teachers, parents gather at state charter school board meeting

- An average Arizona Charter Board meeting usually doesn't draw too much attention, but the meeting Monday was not the case, as frustrated teachers and parents showed to ask about the sudden closure of Discovery Creemos Academy.

The school, formerly known as Bradley Academy, closed without warning on January 30.

"I think he's a coward for doing this to everybody," said former teacher Michelle Miller. "For hurting everybody. Teachers, staff, parents, kids, everybody."

Jim Hall, who leads a charter school accountability group, told the board the red flags were up and waving furiously about the school and its' principal, Daniel Hughes.

"They spent $1.8 million to run a school of 400 kids, which is $4k per pupil, and about  3 times what they paid for teacher salary," said Hall. "Their test scores were horrible. On AzMERIT, 13% passed English. 7% passed math."

The Charter School Board approved Bradley Academy's charter renewal, when Hughes went before the board last June. On Monday, there was a unanimous vote to revoke Bradley Academy's charter.

"The teachers are feeling it's far too little, too late," said James Green, an attorney for the teachers. "This is way after the fact. School's closed. The teachers have lost their jobs, and now, charter's revoked. It doesn't help teachers at this point."

"We can't just close someone down because you think they're a bad actor," said Kathy Senseman, President of the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools. "We go out and find legal findings to substantiate that, and that's what we we're in the process of doing when this bad actor closed his doors."

Hall said he has filed a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's Office, asking that they look into Hughes' finances with the academy. He also told the board he asked the AG to investigate the Charter School Board for being unwilling and unable to identify the waste and fraud by Hughes.

Senseman's Statement:

"The Board has been concerned about Bradley and has ensured the necessary reviews of its operations. Staff expressed concern to the Arizona Department of Education’s Annual Daily Membership Audit Unit. ADE’s Audit unit is the appropriate entity statutorily charged with the responsibility of conducting reviews of district and charter school ADM. The Audit unit subsequently began its investigation of Bradley. In fact, it is my understanding that the Audit unit was supposed to be at the school the day of closure for further review. 
 
Additionally, the Board provided the Attorney General’s Office information for their investigation on this issue. 
 
In accordance with the Board’s Audit and Compliance practices, the Board had Bradley under a Corrective Action Plan to address matters identified in its FY16 Audit. The Board required detailed information to be submitted to allow for additional review by staff. Information obtained through this process was provided to the Attorney General’s office for their investigation." 

 

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