Urban Prep Academy fights to keep charter school agreement at public hearing

The State Board of Education heard the school network's appeal against Chicago Public Schools

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Friday, January 20, 2023
Urban Prep Academy fights to keep charter school agreement
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Urban Prep Academy in Chicago is making new pleas to keep its charter school agreement during two public hearings Thursday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Urban Prep Academy in Chicago appealed to the State Board of Education to keep its charter school agreement for its remaining campuses in Englewood and Bronzeville, to keep control of their remaining two campuses and not lose that control to Chicago Public Schools leaders.

"Urban Prep ensures that our young men are in school, and our mission is for them to be successful in college, so we are pushing," said Dennis Lacewell, chief academic officer of Urban Prep.

Known fr gaining national recognition for its 100% graduation rate, its charter is now in jeopardy after a report from the district's inspector general that substantiated misconduct allegations against the charter school's founder, Tim King.

RELATED: Urban Prep Academy administrator resigns after misconduct investigation

King was placed on a "do not hire" list by CPS< and banned from being on all its properties, including Urban Prep.

But after that decision was made, CPS officials said Urban Prep administrators allowed King on school grounds during College Signing Day last May.

"He speaks. He shakes hands. He talks to reporters. He interacts with students," said Sam Mathias, CPS Director of School Development. "This is a violation of the directive. It is a violation of Title IX. And what's more, it's not just that executive's violation. It's a Title IX violation for everyone who knew he shouldn't be there."

The findings by the inspector general caused CPS to move to revoke the charter agreement in October, with another inspector general investigation, now, underway into the school network's management of funds.

"Urban Prep's history of financial practices and looming outcome of investigations and uncertainty about their financial management practices should not give the Illinois State Board of Education certainty that they should be allowed to be their own local education authority," said Rochelle Washington, CPS Director of Performance and Accountability.

"What CPS is doing is closing Urban Prep and opening up a new school that will not look, feel, or operate like Urban Prep. And, it certainly won't serve the boys of Chicago, their families, the way that Urban Prep has for several years," said Urban Prep Board of Directors member Craig Carter.

The State Board of Education already ended the charter school's agreement for its downtown campus this past November, citing a decline in enrollment.

"CPS says they will not close the two campuses, and will retain all teachers and staff. They also say students will be allowed to remain at the school or transfer to another one next year.

The Illinois Board of Education is expected to hand down a decision on this appeal on March 15.

ALSO SEE: Urban Prep student launching 'Safe Streets Chicago' campaign