State education officials met with officials from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) concerning findings at Hope Academy, a charter school sponsored by UMKC. The university was notified Nov. 1 of the state’s concerns including:
- Potential attendance reporting issues resulting in average daily attendance inflation
- Discrepancies related to service learning
- Low academic performance
- Issues related to academic integrity
The Charter School Office of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education confirmed some of the issues during an unannounced on-site visit to Hope Academy on Oct. 9, 2013. Along with allegations of over-reporting attendance, the state’s concerns include possible residency violations, ineligible activities under service-learning standards, and a four-year trend of low academic performance.
“We want to make sure students receive an education that will prepare them for life after high school graduation,” said Margie Vandeven, Deputy Commissioner of Learning Services. “We are concerned to see reported instructional activities that do not meet minimum state standards.”
More than 80 percent of students at Hope Academy are not scoring in the proficient range on state assessments in English language arts, and 90 percent of its students are not scoring proficient in mathematics. The charter school’s low academic performance combined with testing integrity issues and credits given for non-standard service-learning jobs raised concerns about the school’s academic integrity.
Department officials notified the director of UMKC’s Charter School Center of its findings. In response, the Center met with Hope Academy’s board in an emergency meeting on Nov. 3. UMKC officials have already developed a transition plan that would allow students to remain enrolled at Hope Academy through the end of the 2013-14 school year.
As a result of the Department’s findings, Hope Academy notified UMKC on Nov. 4 that the charter board of directors placed its administrators on leave along with some of its other staff. An interim superintendent has been appointed, and the school has hired an external auditor to examine issues raised by the Department.
UMKC has agreed to present a plan of resolution to the Department by Dec. 1.