- After an initial denial by a WCS committee, the Founders Classical Academy has submitted a renewed application.
- The school board will meet in July to consider and vote on the committee’s recommendation.
- The Founders Classical Academy’s board now includes the former leadership of the USA Classical Academy, which withdrew its application earlier this year.
- Over 300 families expressed interest in USA Classical, many of whom now hope to be founders.
An application from K-8 charter school founders Classical Academy will return to the Williamson County Schools Board of Education for consideration and a vote next month.
After being denied earlier this year, the school is hoping to appeal to the county again, with its new community support and leadership as well as feedback from the district’s first application of its review.
Founders and USA Classical Academy first applied to operate in Williamson earlier this year. Both submitted applications are at the same time, unbeknownst to one another, despite being almost identical in curricular offerings.
USA Classical Academy eventually withdrew its submission, citing a “strategic alliance” as part of Tennessee’s push to “open dozens of charter schools in the next few years” with help from Hillsdale College.
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“Based on this reality, it has become apparent to our board that the path to approval is open in the 2023-24 school year, which was always expected to be a challenge, now with an impossibility to virtually zero backing and support from education and Regarding governmental parties, “the board sent an email to families sent in March.
Founders Classical Academy’s first application was rejected by the committee in April.
“The general feedback is the plan lacks specifics and some sections or attachments were left blank completely,” said Leigh Webb, committee member and Williamson County Schools assistant superintendent of secondary schools.
Since then, former USA Classical Academy board members Mitch Emoff and Cassie Chapman have joined the board of founders, combining forces to appeal to the district with the backing of Del Rey Education Inc. and partner ResponsiveEd, a charter school management organization.
Although USA Classical planned to use frameworks and training provided by Hillsdale. It was not used by the school’s charter management organization.
“We realized we weren’t really good for driving forward this school, to the degree that we didn’t have the educational expertise within our board,” Emoff said in an interview this month.
At the same time submitting another classical school application at the same time was a “blessing in disguise” to the USA Classical Team.
“I was crestfallen when I thought we weren’t going to be able to provide it and then (it) renewed hope when I saw the Founders Classical Academy would be able to refine it because they have a different model,” Emoff said. “The education component is built into the organization running it, unlike a bunch of local volunteers like we were.
“They have the backing from ResponsiveEd. … It just made me so excited for the prospects for the parents.”
The founders said in a news release that over 300 families had shared interest in USA Classical. Many of those families are now committed to attending Founders if approved, according to Emoff.
A committee is currently reviewing Founders’ new application.
The school board will convene a special meeting in July where members will consider and vote on the committee’s recommendation. If denied again, the Founders’ Board could appeal to the Tennessee Charter School Commission.
Emoff said he hopes the district moves to support the charter school and that, like him, the district will have local oversight.
“We would rather be able to have close supervision and maybe even some partnership opportunities like sharing busing services, food services, special needs services,” he said. “These are all things that we would like to pay our fair share and be able to work with them.”
According to state law, if the commission were to approve a charter school after a board’s denial, the commission would have tasted oversight of the new school, unless a district were “mutually agreeing in writing that the local board’s education would be Author and the LEA for the public charter school. “
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At Williamson County Schools, however, the Board of Education committed to relinquishing a commission-approved school of governance, voting to officially add a new clause to its charter school policy at its June meeting.
“If the charter school is authorized by the Commission, it will remain under the oversight of the Commission,” it read. “The board will not exercise its legal option to become an authorizer of such a charter.”
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