The Tennessee State Board of Education has voted to overturn the Metro Nashville school board's decision to close three Knowledge Academies charter schools at the end of the semester.
Fox 17 Nashville reports that the charter schools had been set to close in December after facing allegations of fraud and fiscal mismanagement.
However, the State Board of Education overruled the local school board and will instead place Knowledge Academies on probation. The charter network runs two middle schoolsand a high school.
"While it is evident that Knowledge Academies has experienced significant issues in the past two years under its former administration and still has a long way to go to correct some of the issues cited...I cannot conclude that the substantiated issues merit revocation of the charter agreement under T.C.A.," State Board Executive Director Sara Heyburn Morrison wrote. "Based on a review of the totality of the evidence presented in this appeal and the State Board’s standard of review, I determine that the [Nashville] Board of Education decision to revoke the charter agreement of Knowledge Academy was contrary to T.C.A. 49-13-122(b). Therefore, I recommend that the State Board overturn the revocation decision..."
The state board found the Nashville school board showed sufficient evidence for only six of the 14 reasons it cited for the network's closure. None of the six issues were determined to be emergencies, the review found, which would set off an automatic revocation.
The state also said the Nashville board chose to accelerate the process toward revocation without giving the charter schools notice of the issues or an opportunity to remedy them.
Nashville school board members have blasted the state board's intervention on the Knowledge Academies, The Nashville Tennessean reports. The district issued a letter saying the closure was needed to keep the charter school network accountable.
In light of the state's ruling, the Nashville board will need to determine how it will address ongoing problems at the charters, including the use of unlicensed teachers and poor academics.