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Urban Prep

Appellate court says Chicago charter school can remain open

July 10, 2023
The Chicago school board has revoked the charter for Urban Prep Academies, but the school has won a reprieve while its legal challenge is pending.

An Illinois appellate court has decided that Urban Prep Academies in Chicago will be allowed to remain open while a lawsuit challenging the charter school’s closure is pending.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the temporary restraining order from the appellate court prevents Chicago Public Schools (CPS) from taking over the school until Urban Prep’s lawsuit is resolved.

In April, the Illinois State Board of Education denied Urban Prep’s appeal to take back control of its campuses in the Bronzeville and Englewood neighborhoods. The Chicago school board voted last year to revoke the charter for the schools.

A district watchdog substantiated misconduct allegations against the charter network’s former CEO, Tim King, and found multiple violations related to governance. The investigation also found that only one-third of Urban Prep teachers are certified and the charter failed to provide adequate special education services for disabled students.

A circuit court judge rejected the school’s initial request for a temporary restraining order on the closure June 14, so Urban Prep filed an appeal. 

The district had previously started the process of replacing Urban Prep with district-run Bronzeville-Englewood High School.

“CPS is disappointed in the recent court decision; however, our focus is on ensuring that all CPS students have access to high-quality educational opportunities in their neighborhood,” the district said. “CPS is committed to the new Bronzeville-Englewood High School welcoming students and staff on the first day of school, Aug. 21.”

Dennis Lacewell, the chief academic officer for Urban Prep, said Urban Prep’s commitment to making sure its seniors had attainable postgraduate plans was a big part of its success and what set them apart from the typical public school model, citing the charter’s 90% high school graduation rate, compared with CPS’ 65% high school graduation rate for Black male students.

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