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News: Little Rock

LRSD Attorney Seeks State Board Appeal of Unanimous Approval of Quest Middle School of WLR

Thursday, November 21, 2013   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Gary Newton
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The following and attached is the request by Little Rock School District Attorney Chris Heller, seeking appeal before the Arkansas State Board of Education of the unanimous (6-0) Charter Authorizing Panel approval of Quest Middle School of West Little Rock.

On December 9th, at the State Board's next scheduled meeting, it will decide, by majority vote (five of nine members), whether or not to review the decision of the Panel. If the State Board votes not to review the decision, the Panel's decision is final. If the State Board votes to review the decision, it will conduct a hearing at its January meeting, and the majority decision (five of nine members) made by the Board after the hearing will be final.

Subject: Quest Charter Application

From: Christopher Heller
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 3:44 PM
To: ADE Charter Schools
Cc: Tom Kimbrell (ADE); Jeremy Lasiter (ADE); Lori Freno-Engman (ADE)

Subject: Quest Charter Application

Ms. Perry – In accordance with the procedures in Ark. Code Ann. sections 6‐23‐702 and 703, and the time frame set out in your November 14 letter announcing the approval of Quest Middle School’s charter application, LRSD requests that the State Board of Education review the final decision of the Department in this matter. Although Quest claimed in its application that it would enroll 78% free and reduced lunch students, then submitted an amended budget to the ADE at its approval hearing claiming at least 50% F/R students, neither number fits with the available evidence. Quest will likely be established as a predominately white, low poverty school which operates to the detriment of both LRSD and PCSSD. Quest will also draw students from the same area where LRSD has purchased land for the construction of a new middle school. It makes no sense as a matter of public policy to create two new middle schools in the same place at the same time.

Information available at the ADE Data Center supports LRSD’s concerns. At Baker, the elementary school closest to the proposed Quest site, less than 19% of the students received F/R lunch during the 2011‐12 school year (the last year reported). At two other elementary schools in the area, Chenal and Roberts, there were 24% and 25% F/R students, respectively. To the extent Quest would draw from students from private or home schools rather than traditional public schools, the numbers would likely be even lower. Quest has budgeted $99,000 for transportation. This will not be nearly enough to affect the character of the school. An accurate calculation of the likely F/R enrollment at Quest would also have the effect of reducing Quest’s budgeted income. If the State is willing to create what will clearly be a low poverty, identifiably white school operated by a private entity which does not have the means to transport any significant numbers of poverty students to the school, the SBE (rather than ADE) should make that decision with a full record of the likely enrollment and not on the questionable representation that there will be some degree of economic balance.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. Please let me know if there is anything further I must do to have this request presented to the State Board. CH

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Tracey Ayliffe says...
Posted Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I think that LRSD has proven that it is unable to provide an equitable or effective education system so it is about time somebody else got the chance. It seems clear to me that LRSD is primarily concerned with preserving its administration and entrenched employees who have proven their ineffectiveness rather than the interests of the population of the district. Perhaps they should spend our tax dollars on students educational needs rather than lawyers!!!!

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