Future of Bronzeville Academy Charter School uncertain after IL Board of Education revokes charter

Mark Rivera Image
Thursday, May 16, 2024
IL Board of Education revokes charter for South Side school
Bronzeville Academy Charter School's future is uncertain as students learn at Rainbow PUSH. The Illinois State Board of Education revoked its charter.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The future is uncertain for students who attend a South Side school.

School officials at Bronzeville Academy Charter School missed a deadline to secure a new location. It has created an emergency situation for some students and parents.

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What could be a demoralizing defeat is forging dogged determination in Bronzeville Academy Charter School administrators.

"We'd like to figure out how we can mend this relationship with the Illinois State Board of Education so that we continue to help our students grow," Bronzeville Academy Charter School Assistant Principal Vincent Payne said.

The Illinois State Board of Education revoked Bronzeville Academy's charter on Wednesday, forcing them to permanently close at the end of the school year after the board said academy officials missed two key deadlines to secure a new building for students after the current site at 49th and Cottage Grove was sold.

"I'm appalled and I'm filled with disbelief," Bronzeville Academy mother Sharett Gentle said.

Gentle is the mother of a third grader at the academy, and she is now filled with frustration.

"Starting over, it's just you feel that fear in your heart, you feel the questions in our heart,"Gentle said. "Is he going to be treated the same way as he is at Bronzville?"

Administrators say they have found a new home. For the past two weeks, the 320 K-through-8 students enrolled have been learning at Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters after storm and water damage forced them to leave their school property early.

Reverend Janette Wilson, PUSH Excel National Executive Director, said the children deserve to stay at Rainbow PUSH to continue learning, and she said they're willing to continue the partnership.

"These children are disciplined, they're focused and they're learning, and they feel welcomed," Wilson said. Why would we tell them to go to another school with strangers? They'll lose their friends... it's too much trauma."

The future is uncertain, but leaders say they will fight.

"They're going stay here. We're going to do whatever it takes within our legal ability to make sure that this school can remain in this building," Wilson said. "Having something consistency in place is what I believe is good for my nine-year-old son."

A Chicago Public Schools spokesperson issued the following statement:

"Earlier this week, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) voted to "non-renew" the charter of Bronzeville Charter Academy. The school will close at the end of the 2023-24 school year. The District is working with ISBE and plans to reach out to school officials and impacted families to offer supports and a variety of strong options for Bronzeville Academy students to transition to new schools in the 2024-25 school year to ensure the continuity of their education."