Last week the Anchorage School Board voted to revoke the charter of Family Partnership Charter School.
The district now takes control of the home school program after the 6-1 vote. For years, the district tried to help the school fix longstanding dysfunction on its policy committee.
Family Partnership Charter School is the oldest and largest charter school in Anchorage. It opened in 1997 and is one of two charter schools within the district that also serves as a homeschool program.
At last week’s meeting, dozens of current and former students, parents, teachers, and administrators testified in favor of keeping the charter. Theresa Hintze is the parent of a Family Partnership student, and asked the board not to revoke the charter.
“Revoking the charter would rob current and future students of the ability to find their own unique and individual path through the educational landscape,” Hintze said. “I implore the members of the board to try and recognize that taking the extreme action of revoking family partnership’s charter is detrimental to every entity in the Anchorage School District.”
Many people who testified shared fears that removing the policy committee and dissolving the charter would fundamentally change the school. However, the district administration noted that the only meaningful difference is dissolving the academic policy committee, which is meant to govern the school. Instead, the school will be guided by an academic advisory council.
The Alaska Association of School Boards previously attempted to provide guidance to the committee, but soon withdrew their support. The district listed years of instances of infighting and interference with the principal’s operation of the school, violation of state law by purchasing religious material with state funds, as well as breaches of the charter and other policies.
Board member Andy Holleman discussed the role of the academic policy committee.
“You have to have a functioning academic policy committee to be a charter school, and you don’t,” Holleman said. “We’re not able to step in and fix that. We can’t fire members of the academic policy committee, we can’t select new ones we, can’t tell them what to do all of those things would violate the agreement as it exists. Unfortunately we have very few tools and we’re making use, unfortunately, of one of the only ones we have “
Before the vote to revoke the charter, the board passed an amendment to ensure all Family Partnership Charter School funds would remain in their own separate account, create a parent-led advisory council, and prevent changes to the current student allotments.
Eight other charter schools remain available to ASD students.