Reach Academy files lawsuit against Delaware Dept. of Education

Board members of Reach Academy for Girls today filed a lawsuit in United States District Court against both the Delaware Department of Education and DOE Secretary Mark Murphy.

“The complaint asserts violations of the Due Process of the Fourteenth Amendment and unlawful sexual discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” states a release distributed by Reach Academy Board Member Tina Betz.

Earlier this month DOE decided not to renew the school’s charter citing poor academic performance. Data showed proficiency levels fall “far below” the standard and student achievement is among the lowest in the state, according to DOE.

The K-8th grade all-girls school in New Castle currently serves 468 students and is set to close at the end of this academic year.

“We are deeply disappointed by the DOE’s decision not to approve Reach Academy’s charter renewal. Reach Academy is home to more than 400 girls, many of whom left a failing or unsafe school,” said Canon Lloyd Casson, board president of Reach Academy in a statement. “Our students rely on our school as a safe and supportive place to learn and prosper. After much consideration and discussion by Reach Academy’s Board of Directors and staff, and outreach to DOE and other State of Delaware officials was unsuccessful, Reach Academy’s board of directors has decided that challenging the DOE’s decision through federal court is the option that is in the best interest of our girls.”

DOE Spokeswoman Alison May said the department has not been served with a copy of the lawsuit.

“But as with any pending litigation, the state will respond to specific allegations in court,” said May in a statement. “At this time, the department points to the public record in this case, including Secretary Murphy’s remarks at the Nov. 12 State Board of Education meeting and the record that he reviewed to make his decision. The record includes the two reports by the Charter School Accountability Committee, the school’s response, transcripts of both public hearings and other documents submitted during the public comment period. All of that is available online here. These documents and Secretary Murphy’s comments clearly outline why Reach’s charter was not renewed.”

Additionally, May said the department’s primary concern right now is helping Reach students find new schools for next year.

An informational session for parents will be held Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. at the school.

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