Great Hearts to appeal school board's charter denial

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 2:48am

Officials from Great Hearts Academies, a charter organization rejected by the Metro school board last week, announced late Tuesday they would appeal that decision but gave no indication they plan to tweak their original charter application.

“We are reaffirming our original application and desire to open five schools across Nashville, so all families can be near a Great Hearts school if they would like to attend,” Daniel Scoggin, Great Hearts’ CEO, told supporters in an email. (Full text of the email below).

The school board approved two charter school applications last week, but denied the proposals of eight others. KIPP Nashville has already announced it would appeal the board’s denial of its application, and now Arizona-based Great Hearts has vowed to do the same.

“We have decided to appeal the board’s denial because we believe our application was very strong and consistent with board policy, state law, and federal law,” Scoggin wrote. “Unfortunately, we believe the charter authorizing process was subsumed by polarizing debates that left little space for consideration by the district leadership about Great Hearts and our track record of helping students reach their greatest potential as scholars and citizens.”

Great Hearts’ plan for a network of five Metro charter schools has ran into resistance from critics in Nashville who say the school would cater to a largely affluent student base and thus undermine the district’s commitment to diversity.

Metro’s charter review committee, which recommended the board deny Great Hearts application, cited concerns with the organization’s lack of a location plan and failure to identify the students it would serve. Great Hearts has not revealed where it intends to locate its schools, though critics have assumed the first would be on the west side of town.

Director of Schools Jesse Register has shared diversity concerns with Great Hearts’ proposal as well as concerns over Great Hearts decision not to offer transportation.

Mayor Karl Dean, a charter advocate, strongly criticized the board’s KIPP rejection. While also sharing diversity concerns, Dean asked the board and Great Hearts to “work together” to find a solution.

The nine-member school board will consider the appeals of charter applicants later this month. If denied again, charter organizations can appeal to the state board of education, but Great Hearts officials say they wouldn’t take that route.

“If the MNPS board does not approve our five charters, we will not appeal the decision of MNPS to the state board,” Scoggin wrote. “Unfortunately, at that point, we would be beyond our initial start-up commitment date and we would need to take a step back to consider other options and further build our capacity. We would reapply to MNPS at a later time, when the conditions for the acceptance of our application have improved.”

 

 

June 6, 2012

Dear Nashville Families and Friends,

I speak for all of us on the Great Hearts Academies leadership team in saying that we are incredibly humbled and grateful for your support as we explore a potential partnership with Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. I am an educator, but, first and foremost, I am a parent. I personally know the deep desire to give my own children the very best educational opportunities available, a desire that I know is shared by each and every one of you.

We believe Nashville has the potential for an education renaissance in the very near future. The divisiveness and rancor in the current debate has reaffirmed the importance of your efforts to help Nashville build the unity and purpose necessary to let all families make the very best educational decisions for their children, whether that be a district-run school, a Great Hearts academy, or another option that meets their scholar's individual needs.

As you might know, at the May 29th MNPS Board Meeting, Great Hearts Academies received a unanimous denial to open new schools in your city. We believe we submitted an excellent application to open five schools across Nashville so all families, regardless of income, ethnicity or religious background, can have access to a college preparatory liberal arts education in a public school setting. Our classical liberal arts approach develops critical thinking, philosophical depth, and moral character. Our graduates gain admittance to the best colleges and universities in the land. Most importantly, our scholars graduate with a commitment to pursuing truth, beauty, and goodness, with a sense of destiny to serving a greater good beyond themselves.

We have decided to appeal the board's denial because we believe our application was very strong and consistent with board policy, state law, and federal law. Unfortunately, we believe the charter authorizing process was subsumed by polarizing debates that left little space for consideration by the district leadership about Great Hearts and our track record of helping students reach their greatest potential as scholars and citizens.

We are reaffirming our original application and desire to open five schools across Nashville, so all families can be near a Great Hearts school if they would like to attend. As requested, we completed a supplemental application for opening multiple schools in our original application that demonstrates our commitment to serve the entire city of Nashville. Currently, we have almost 3,000 parents who have registered on our interest list, and we are humbled by this initial level of interest in the Great Hearts approach.

We need to be completely clear with all interested parties on what Great Hearts needs to be successful to serve the families of Nashville for many years to come. Our appeal outlines that we need the district to approve five charters for us to come to Nashville. Given the level of investment and commitment required to serve students and families in another city, we must know by the end of June if these charters will be approved. We need over a year to plan and execute on the successful opening of the first school-from facility development to faculty and student recruitment.

If the MNPS board does not approve our five charters, we will not appeal the decision of MNPS to the state board. Unfortunately, at that point, we would be beyond our initial start-up commitment date and we would need to take a step back to consider other options and further build our capacity. We would reapply to MNPS at a later time, when the conditions for the acceptance of our application have improved.

We appreciate your interest and support for Great Hearts. We would love to work together with you to develop a set of amazing schools for the children and families of Nashville, and believe that there is an opportunity for an educational renaissance in the city. We hope that the MNPS school board will provide Great Hearts with the opportunity to create more great schools in the city.

In gratitude,

Dr. Daniel Scoggin
Chief Executive Officer, Great Hearts America

2 Comments on this post:

By: Nitzche on 6/6/12 at 6:52

this is laughable.........Karl Dean says MBA and Harpeth Hall would never treat his kids like this

By: pswindle on 6/6/12 at 7:06

I read where Louisana is going to the private sector to handle their school systems. The GOP will not be happy until they are in control of every government service, and they will walk of with the money and the schools and other agencies will be holding the bag and destroyed. We will end up with a country of uneducated students. This is just what happened with Bain and Romney. He came in and took over, and made them think that this was good for them, he walked off with the their pensions, and then the government had to take over to keep the workers from starving and losing everything that that had or he fired them all and hired some back back at a lower rate, longer work week, and no unions. Then ended up closing for good 99% of all the companies that he raided. Wake up America. This is what will happen in TN schools,