Uncertified teachers, students teaching themselves, and administrators not doing their jobs are some of the allegations substantiated by the Office of Charter Schools about Gateway University.
The findings were presented Tuesday to members of the Shelby County School Board. The Office of Charter Schools for the district is now recommending the board revokes its charter.
The investigation began June of 2018 when a whistleblower reached out to the Office of Charter Schools and the Shelby County School Board, and revealed some alarming allegations. After a six-month investigation, it was found that some of the allegations were true.
“Everyone stated the same thing about the geometry class. There was no formal instruction. It occurred in the hallway or other common areas of the school, and that the students functionally taught themselves,” Alex Robertson from the Office of Charter Schools.
Tuesday, Robertson presented to members of the Shelby County School Board their findings about illegal practices at Gateway University, a charter school opened two years ago.
“The reason this was so difficult to catch was that the school was also falsifying its records. When they didn’t have a certified teacher, they would put a different teacher in their building who was certified in their system,” said Bradley Leon, Chief of Strategy and Performance.
Other allegations that were substantiated include a non-functioning Charter Governing Board for the school that did not hold meetings during the entire 2017-2018 school year. Grades were also awarded in two classes in which students did not receive instruction and the school relied heavily on uncertified teachers.
“How long were those teachers in the building. Were they on some type of plan to transition being certified or were they just out the gate hired as uncertified and nobody had them on a plan and they were just like here you go?” asked SCS Board member Miska Clay-Bibbs.
Another finding was that an entire Geometry class did not have an instructor, but all received the same grade.
“Where are the children now? Because what we know is our children can’t get back those months, or those years or those weeks lost when we as adults don’t do what’s right for our children,” said Stephanie Love.
Love suggested all SCS charter schools be audited in the future to prevent a situation like this from happening. The board will vote on the decision at its next meeting January 29. If the board decides to close the school, 120 students will have to enroll elsewhere.