Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy, one of the oldest charter networks in Washington, D.C., says it will close two of its three campuses.
The Chavez Board of Trustees says in a news release that Capitol Hill High School and Parkside High School, will merge at the end of this school year and become a single school at the Parkside campus focused on college preparation and public policy. The board also will close Chavez Prep Middle, its campus for grades 6 to 9 in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. The middle school program at Parkside will cease operations in summer 2020, but the board indicated that middle grades could return to Parkside sometime in the future.
The Chavez network says it will focus its efforts on establishing a premier secondary school at the 66,000-square-foot Parkside campus.
“We will focus on what Chavez Schools was uniquely founded to do: prepare DC’s young people to succeed in college, careers and life, and empower them to use public policy to create a more just, free and equal world,” the board wrote in a message to families and staff.
The board noted that network’s existing structure was established when its schools enrolled nearly 1,500 students. This year, enrollment across all campuses is 956. The two Chavez high schools serve 570 students and can fit on a single campus, according to Emily Silberstein, chief executive of the Chavez charter network
The Washington Post reports that the decision by Chavez’s Board of Trustees follows the recent actions of regulators to close three other schools.
Those three schools — Democracy Prep Congress Heights, City Arts and Prep and National Collegiate Preparatory — are expected to close by the end of the academic year because of low performance, although some of those schools are considering appealing regulators’ actions.
Two other schools in the city — Somerset Prep DC and Ideal Academy — faced potential closure for low performance but struck deals with big charter networks to operate them and keep them open. KIPP DC will run Somerset, and Friendship will operate Ideal.
Chavez Prep Middle, which serves 235 students, is the city’s only charter school where teachers organized a union.
Teachers there protested last year as they negotiated their first contract with school leaders, saying that the school was spending millions of dollars on consultants at the expense of students’ academics.