Yesterday the State Board of Education on a split vote, 4-3, decided to affirm the Denver Public Schools' refusal to renew the contract for Life Skills of Denver. Life Skills serves 100% at-risk students qualifying for an Alternative Education Campus (AEC) designation. There are 160 students in Life Skills at present and the average student has attended 5 other schools before choosing Life Skills.
Life Skills also appealed a DPS decision to close them back in 2007. At that time, the State Board voted to remand the decision and DPS allowed the charter school to remain open. Numerous changes were made at the school, including a wide array of wrap-around services for students, many of whom were over age and under credit.
At yesterday's hearing the primary point of disagreement was whether or not Life Skills' contract required them to make "reasonable progress" or, as Supt. Tom Boasgberg asserted the contract stated if they committed a material breach of ANY provision the contract could be terminated. The Life Skills contract had 12 provisions in the contract and the school contended they made 9 of those provisions. Legal counsel for the State Board, Nick Stancil, responded to a question from Board member Paul Lundeen by pointing out that "makes reasonable progress" is language in the Charter Schools Act, and in the Life Skills contract. He disagreed with the claim that any breech of contract provisions was enough reason to revoke a charter school, however.
Students, teachers and family members attending the hearing were visibly upset with the Board's decision. The school, operated by White Hat Management out of Ohio, has not decided their initial next steps.