urban prep bronzeville

Chicago board opts not to renew charter of 2 boys high schools

Oct. 27, 2022
The school district intends to take over operations of the Urban Prep Academy campuses in the Bronzeville and Englewood neighborhoods.

The Chicago school board has voted to deny charter renewals for two all-male high schools.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Chicago district intends to take over operations at the two Urban Prep Academy campuses.

The board voted to deny the renewal application amid assertions that Urban Prep’s leaders put their own interests ahead of students’.

But officials and community members from the charter high schools called the move an attack against its independence, which they say is responsible for an educational model that serves young Black men and has produced a 100% college acceptance rate among its seniors for 13 years.

Prior to the vote, staff, students and parents from Urban Prep Academies pleaded with the board to let the schools keep their charters.

Without them, the Urban Prep campuses in Bronzeville and Englewood would remain open but would come under district management, either as a campus program of an existing high school or as an independent school, according to CPS’ plans. A third Urban Prep campus in downtown Chicago is chartered through the state and is not affected.

School district CEO Pedro Martinez praised Urban Prep’s all-male school model but said the district cannot compromise on what it has described as Urban Prep’s problems with governance and school safety.

In an appeal to the board, Brandon Lenore, Urban Prep’s director of student programs, emphasized the rich programming the schools provide. He argued that the work of Urban Prep Academies can’t be replicated under different leadership.

In recommending not to renew the charter, district administrators laid out a case based on allegations that Urban Prep violated the law, violated the charter and operated under “dismal” management since at least 2020. 

The district plans to make job offers to Urban Prep teachers and staff who qualify.

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