Forced by court ruling, Chicago board approves charter school contract extension

Dec. 18, 2023
The school board had voted not to renew contracts for Urban Prep Charter Academy campuses, but a judge ruled that it must.

Forced by a court order, the Chicago school board has extended contracts for charter schools run by Urban Prep Charter Academy.

Chalkbeat Chicago reports that the extensions for the network's Bronzeville and Englewood campuses are effective until June 2024.

The extensions comes more than a year after the board voted not to renew the contracts. That decision was based on allegations that Urban Prep mismanaged finances and failed to comply with special education laws, as well as allegations that the school's founder, Tim King, sexually abused a now-former student. King has denied those allegations.

Urban Prep appealed the board's decision to state education officials, who sided with the Chicago district. The charter network then filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court alleging that their agreement couldn't be revoked because of a state moratorium on closing schools until 2025. In July, the court ruled in Urban Prep's favor.

Chicago has appealed the court ruling.

The Urban Prep agreement that the board approves has more than a dozen conditions, including cooperation in district investigations and complying with financial oversight. Those conditions are generally the same that Urban Prep has had to follow in the past. Urban Prep has not attempted to comply with most of those, said Zabrina Evans, executive director of the district's Office of Innovation and Incubation in the Office of Portfolio Management.

Dennis Lacewell, chief academic officer at Urban Prep, asserts that the district is spreading "lies and propaganda" about the charter failing to meet requirements. Lacewell says Urban Prep has complied with eight of 10 previous conditions and submitted evidence to the district.


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