KIPP Academy to Close

May 12, 2009 11:45:13 PM PDT
Three of the schools five board members came to a meeting Tuesday night to explain the school's plight to parents and students. With apparent regret, the board voted to close the KIPP Academy. Board Director Steve Gile called for the vote."This is going to be a roll call vote. Dr. Chong ... I vote to close. Dr. Jones, I vote to close. I vote to close as well. Motion's carried 3 zero."

A few parents argued the school needed to keep on fighting. But the board members said the situation was hopeless. In addition to KIPP's financial troubles, the previous administration had failed to draw up plans for the schools continued operation. Those plans needed to be presented to Fresno Unified for approval, this week and board members said there was not the time or money to get it done.

"If we had begun in October we wouldn't have been placed in this hard position. And of course that was a time when there was a different board, and an entirely different administration for the school." Giles said.

Board members said making the decision now gives the schools 17 teachers time to look for other jobs, and gives parents a chance to find other schools for the 200 or so students. Something many parents don't want to do.

"I still haven't looked for another school for my daughter because there is no other school for my daughter, this is the place she needs to be." Said parent Marguerita Rodriguez.

Parent Suzie Velasco added, "This was perfect for her and unfortunately there really isn't another alternative in Fresno Unified for her."

The KIPP Academy opened in 2004. One of 60 such schools across the country. But early this year, the Principal Chi Tschang resigned amid allegations he mistreated students. But supporters say the school was producing results. Higher test scores, and happy students. Like 7th grader Rosa Espinoza, "I didn't want it to close because I really like the school."

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