Watch out for more SB1882 charter conversions; your school may be next

As a reminder, SB1882 is the 2017 law that encourages school districts to turn over struggling campuses to “partners,” such as universities, non-profits or charter chains, to help improve student performance. The first batch of charter conversions resulted in lower accountability ratings for most of the chosen schools, but districts will continue to be tempted to go this route. They get extra state funding and a reprieve from state sanctions.

One of the first conversions under SB1882 was Stewart Elementary’s takeover by New York-based Democracy Prep in San Antonio ISD. TSTA believes that both the school district and the state education commissioner violated several provisions of the law in this case, including a requirement that faculty and staff at the affected school be actively involved in developing a turnaround plan and that employee contract rights be protected.

Stewart’s takeover by the charter chain resulted in all but one of Stewart’s faculty members being reassigned to other schools and the campus dropping the equivalent of two letter grades in the state’s accountability system the first year after the takeover.

TEA already has laid out requirements and deadlines for the process that will result in the next batch of SB1882 takeovers for the 2020-21 school year, and the first key deadline is coming up. Any district that is considering a “Texas Partnership” — as TEA calls these takeovers — must submit a non-binding Letter of Intent to the agency by 5 p.m., Central time, on Friday, Nov. 15.

So, keep a close eye on your school board agendas, ask your administrators and be on the lookout for a “Texas Partnership” business or discussion item. Then contact TSTA. Remember, if your school is being considered for an outside takeover, you, by law, are supposed to be part of the decision-making process…from Day One!