French immersion charter school in Kansas City to acquire site for high school

Former Derrick Thomas Academy is on track to become a high school campus for Academie Lafayette.

A French immersion charter school in Kansas City, Mo., has reached an agreement to buy a shuttered school building and open a high school.

KCUR Radio reports that Academie Lafayette, which already operates a K-3 campus and a 4-8 campus, has agreed to buy the 69,000-square-foot facility that housed Derrick Thomas Academy.

“If everything goes as we hope, this building will be the third campus in the Academie Lafayette network,” says Head of School Elimane Mbengue.

Academie Lafayette spent two years trying to reach a deal with Kansas City Public Schools so it could open a high school at the former Southwest High School. But that deal fell through.

Academie Lafayette has only 120 seats for kindergartners. Because it is a language immersion school, it does not accept students after kindergarten.

By adding a third campus, the school's goal is to expand kindergarten enrollment and add an inaugural class of ninth graders in the same year, 2018.

The high school would be open to students who did not attend Academie Lafayette for K-8. All of the classes would follow a rigorous International Baccalaureate college-prep curriculum.

It will be 120 days before the building sale is completed.

The facility has been vacant since the Derrick Thomas Academy closed in 2013. That charter school, named for a former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker who died in 2000, was sponsored by the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Last year, the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph announced that it planned to purchase the property and merge two existing elementary schools on the site, but that deal fell through.

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