Reach Academy in Delaware could lose charter

The Delaware Department of Education’s Charter School Accountability Committee today recommended the revocation of Reach Academy for Girls’ charter at the end of this academic year because of serious financial and governance concerns related to the 10-month-old Claymont school.

“While the committee respects the experience, leadership and passion the new board brings to Reach, the financial problems and curriculum questions that remain are significant,” said Deputy Secretary of Education Dan Cruce, who chairs the accountability committee. “As a steward of public dollars and trust, the state cannot in good faith continue its relationship with Reach.”Reach, which opened in August 2010, was put on formal review at the Nov. 18, 2010 State Board of Education meeting. Earlier in the fall, state officials conducting periodic reviews of the school’s finances saw red flags.

The Charter School Accountability Committee review process for Reach began on Dec. 7, 2010.An assessment of the situation was issued in a report by the Delaware Department of Education in February.

The committee voted 4-0 with one abstention today to recommend revocation of the charter. Among the concerns cited were lack of leadership experienced in school finances and turnarounds, missing contracts and curriculum outlines as well as budgets that lacked detail or appropriations for needed items such as instructional materials and professional development. The committee noted improvement in human resources practices.”This was a difficult decision. The families and staff members who have worked hard to help this school survive a difficult year deserve praise. I know today’s recommendation is a disappointment to them, as it is to the girls who have come to love their school,” Cruce said.The next step in the process is a public hearing, which is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, July 11 in the Cabinet Room of the Townsend Building, 401 Federal St. in Dover.Taking into account the committee’s recommendation and comments from the public hearing, Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery then will make a recommendation to the State Board of Education for a vote at its July 21 meeting.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.