Some people inside and outside Shelby County Schools are demanding more oversight and scrutiny at charter schools. The schools are non-profits with their own boards but overseen by SCS.
Tuesday, another SCS charter school made headlines for shoddy management and shaky performance. A district investigation for Gateway University uncovered the school using unlicensed teachers and falsifying grades.
“Just like with Shelby County Schools or any other LEA, everybody should be held accountable for the education of our children,” SCS board member Stephanie Love said.
Around 15,000 Shelby County students go to charter schools. But critics like Keith Williams of the Memphis Shelby County Education Association believe SCS is stretched too thin to properly keep tabs on the nearly 50 in operation.
“The district has a responsibility for its own schools. They have a responsibility for the schools they charter to operate as charter schools, and I don’t know how well they can execute all of that,” Williams said.
Gateway is the latest Shelby County charter school facing closure. Last month, the SCS school board voted to not renew the charter of City University Boys Preparatory, a Whitehaven middle school, because of poor academic performance.
Another seven Shelby County charter schools, including Du Bois School of Arts and Technology and Excel Center, will be forced to close in May because they finished in the bottom 5% in the state.
“You have to make sure that they are producing and if they are not, you have a duty to end it, you have a duty to step in,” Williams said.
Wednesday, a SCS spokesperson said: “The district is committed to providing strong, continuous oversight to ensure charter schools authorized by SCS are meeting expectations. We work closely with the Tennessee Department of Education and National Association of Charter Schools Authorizers to ensure best practices.”
Tennessee state law requires the boards of charter schools provide annual financial and performance reports.
The full SCS board will vote later this month to officially revoke Gateway University’s charter, which would force 120 students to find another school next year.
Gateway’s founder and CEO did not respond to a Local 24 News request for comment.