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Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology

Longtime charter school in Kansas City, Mo., shuts down

Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology has struggled to meet state standards and lost its sponsor.

Just weeks before classes resume, one of the oldest charter schools in Kansas City, Mo., has closed, and it’s unclear where those students will enroll.

The Kansas City Star reports that Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology has struggled to meet state performance expectations, and its sponsor, the University of Central Missouri, has severed ties with the school.

Now the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says the school has been unable to find a replacement sponsor and therefore is closed.

“I am telling parents or anyone else who calls that absent a court order, Benjamin Banneker is no longer open,” says Doug Thaman, executive director of the Missouri Charter Public School Association. “We will help parents find another — and better — option for their children."

Missouri public schools are measured each year on a list of criteria including how students score on state standardized tests, daily attendance and graduation rates. Overall scores determine whether the state considers a school or district accredited, provisionally accredited or not accredited at all.

State records show that Banneker’s overall score was at 71 percent in 2014, dropped to a provisional accreditation level of 60 percent in 2015, and dropped again in 2016 to 46.9 percent.

In 2017 just 22 percent of Banneker’s students were at or above grade level in English language arts; 12 percent were at or above grade level in math.

When Central Missouri decided to end its sponsorship, Robert Lee, dean of the College of Education, said that “despite sincere efforts to serve high-need students, Benjamin Banneker has not been able to meet the academic criteria that Missouri statutes have established for public charter schools as well as UCM guidelines.”

Banneker opened 18 years ago. Last fall, the school had 320 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

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