State commission overrules CPS decision to close 3 charter schools

CHICAGO (STMW) - A state board has made a controversial decision to save three Chicago charter schools from closing.

Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter Elementary School, Betty Shabazz' Sizemore campus, and Amandla Charter High School will reopen next school year after a state commission unanimously overruled the district Tuesday night.

Chicago Public Schools officials wanted to close them, saying they were failing to teach basic math and reading skills. But the commission said they didn't think the schools had been treated fairly by the district overseeing them.

All six commission members did acknowledge, however, that there are some serious academic concerns at the schools but voted unanimously to keep them open with state oversight with some recommended conditions.

"After a rigorous and thorough review of the appeals filed by all three schools, the Commission determined that CPS violated state law by changing its charter school standards after the deadlines when schools must be notified," said Commission Chair DeRonda Williams. "It is not only the Commission's mission to ensure a quality education for Illinois students, but also to see that all policies and contracts with charter schools are enforced and honored."

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool released a statement on the issue, saying in part: 

By putting politics ahead of the interests of our children, the state is ensuring charters will not be held accountable, no matter how poorly they serve our students. Charter schools that are failing to teach children basic math and reading skills should be closed, and the dollars reinvested in schools capable of preparing students for future life success.