A Tennessee State University-led charter school proposal didn’t make it on the Metro school board agenda for consideration Tuesday night.
The week before, TSU officials withdrew its application.
The school board voted on 10 charter school proposals Tuesday, electing to authorize two of the publicly financed, privately led charters. But at no point did board members even mention University Bound Academy, for which TSU officials formally filed an application in April.
University leaders had envisioned the school as a science and technology-based charter situated on the TSU campus, with TSU deans and trustees sitting on its board of directors.
Portia Shields, interim presidents of TSU, told The City Paper Wednesday that following discussions with Metro Director of Schools Jesse Register the university decided to withdraw its proposal.
It appears legal questions arose on whether the university’s board could concurrently serve as the charter school’s board.
“There are some governance and legal issues related to [the Tennessee Board of Regents], TSU, and Metro Schools that need to be addressed, and there is insufficient time to respond in time to proceed in this proposal period,” Shields said. “It is my understanding Tennessee has never had a university charter school application to be submitted, so processes will have to be devised."
Shields said TSU hoped to open University Bound Academy as a nonprofit 501(c)3 that would be directly tied to the university’s 501(c)3. “But they [Metro schools] want a complete separate board.”
“We thought it was best to withdraw,” she said, pointing out that the revision and appeals process for the ongoing charter approval process concludes in just 15 days.
Shields said when TSU first proposed the charter it was unaware of potential governance conflicts. “It appears Metro, TBR and TSU have more research to do,” she said.
With TSU set to undergo a leadership change, it is unclear whether TSU would pursue opening a charter school in the future. “That’s an excellent question,” Shields said. “If I were going to be here, I would. Since I’m not, I don’t want to put the next president under any kind of pressure.”