One proposed charter school for Greenwood has moved closer to approval, while another got a thumbs down for the second straight year.
The decision Friday by a three-member committee of the Charter School Authorizer Board to recommend Leflore Legacy Academy will go before the full board for a vote on Sept. 9.
Consultants hired by the board concluded that only the plan presented by MS Delta Academies, which wants to open a school serving grades 6-8 in Greenwood, fully meets the recommended educational, financial and operational requirements. The committee accepted the consultants’ recommendation unanimously, said charter board Executive Director Lisa Karmacharya.
MS Delta Academies’ application to operate Leflore Legacy Academy was turned down last year over concerns about the school’s proposed curriculum, which included a focus on college counseling and college admissions test preparation for middle schoolers.
The proposed school is being pushed by Dr. Tamala Boyd Shaw, a Memphis area educator and graduate of Amanda Elzy High School. She could not be immediately reached for comment.
If approved, Leflore Legacy Academy would start with 120 sixth graders in the first year and add a similarly sized grade the next two years. Shaw has said that she would hope to start a second charter school to serve grades 9 to 12.
Three other applications were recommended for rejection. They include Mississippi Community Education Center’s proposed K-5 school in Greenwood, SR1’s proposed K-5 school in Canton and the Randy J. Naylor Memorial Foundation’s proposed K-6 school in Vicksburg.
Mississippi Community Education Center, proposed by the same organization that operates North New Summit School, didn’t meet any of the standards, the consultants said. The organization also applied unsuccessfully last year.
The board is seeking written public comment on applications through Sept. 5 and will accept in-person comment before it votes next month. The public may find it difficult to comment knowledgeably on the applications, however. Unlike in some previous years, the board has not posted the applications online.
Karmacharya said the applications would be released after the vote. The Associated Press filed a public records request for the four finalists’ applications but was told it would be charged $909 for copies and a legal review of the documents before they could be released. Karmacharya said the 15-cents-a-page charge for downloading and reproducing documents is necessary, even though the applications are submitted electronically, because there are many different files. The AP has not paid the fee.
After the AP’s request, the board notified the finalists that they had the option of going to chancery court to file a legal action seeking all or part of the applications be withheld as trade secrets under a provision of state law that is usually used by vendors selling goods or services to state government. Karmacharya said one of the four applicants, which she did not identify, had requested redactions of such trade secrets. The AP has not received notice of any chancery court action.
Karmacharya, who was hired by the board earlier this year, said she was following directives from a lawyer assigned to the charter board by the Attorney General’s Office.
“I can’t speak for what happened prior to my being here,” she said when asked why the board had stopped posting applications online.