KIPP Academy's Former Principal Speaks

May 11, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
KIPP Academy may soon have an answer on whether it will close at the end of the school year. The KIPP school board is calling an emergency meeting this week.The West Central Fresno charter school has recently struggled with administrative and financial problems. Chi Tschang founded KIPP Academy in 2004. Since then student achievement scores have soared, but problems with the school surfaced after his controversial resignation.

This was the scene at KIPP Academy on February 20th, the day that principal and the founder of KIPP Academy Fresno, Chi Tschang resigned. "It was very sad, very heart breaking. For 5-years this is what I'd given my life to."

Tschang is no longer affiliated with the school and resigned with allegations that he verbally and physically abused students. He said the claims are blown out of proportion. "There is a huge misperception where kids are being abused this is not the case."

Fresno Unified produced a 163 page document called a notice to cure and correct which alleges Tschang yelled at students, pressed them against the wall, and forced some to stand outside for hours. "The notice to cure was initiated a series of communications to our office from parents where they had concerns," said Debra Odom with Fresno Unified School District.

Tschang admits he was a disciplinarian and held students accountable for their actions. While Tschang would not address individual allegations, he said he regrets broken relationships that exist with some of his former students.

"I made mistakes I was young, I opened the school when I was 27-years old. My heart was in the right place. Back then, I made mistakes," said Tschang.

Tschang knows his former school is facing big challenges, but he is hopeful KIPP will continue educating students. "This is a jewel here in Fresno and it would be a tragedy if this school were not to operate past this year."

KIPP's school board was set to vote on this issue next week, but administrators said they will vote Tuesday in order to give teacher and parents a chance to figure out where they will go next if the school does close.

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