Tag Archives: Schools

Options School Receiver Josh Kern Hears Community Weigh In on Troubled Charter

Josh Kern, Court Appointed Receiver of Options Charter School

Josh Kern, Court Appointed Receiver of Options Charter School

Options School Receiver Josh Kern Hears Community Weigh In on Troubled Charter

by Larry Janezich

Last night, the court appointed receiver of Options Charter School appeared before an ANC6A meeting at the invitation of Chair David Holmes.  The purpose was to provide an opportunity for the community to address concerns regarding the recent allegations of financial impropriety involving the school’s administrators, and other issues about the school.  Kern was co-founder in 2001 and a long-time member of the leadership of the Thurgood Marshall Academy, a charter high school in Anacostia.

Prior to last night, on October 12, ANC6A voted to support a letter to the DC Public Charter School Board (PSCB) regarding the “severe problems at Options School” and made three recommendations.  The letter expressed support for transfer of Options charter to a new operator, urged that the school not be closed, and called for a transition to a new, larger [but unspecified] site.  A follow-up email from Holmes to PSCB Executive Director Scott Pearson stated that “PCSB bears much responsibility for the failure” of Options, “with arguably unethical behavior of the then-PCSB chair and the current alleged malfeasance of the PCSB financial officer.”  Holmes’ email included articles from the Washington Post, which point to a possible conflict of financial interest with respect to the actions of then PSCB Chair Thomas Nida.

Last night, the community provided a divided assessment of the school in the neighborhood.  Commissioners Calvin Ward and Sondra Phillips-Gilbert rose to make clear they had not voted to support the ANC letter of October 12.  Some members of the community complained about the behavior of Options students both on and off school property, while others opposed the relocation of the school and moving students out of the community.  There seemed to be general acknowledgement of lack of confidence in the school’s current administration.  Commissioner Phillips-Gilbert took the ANC to task for “the hostility” Options has received from “my colleagues” on the ANC.

Kern and the attorney who accompanied him took notes throughout the discussion but offered little in the way of revealing his plan for moving forward.  He referred more than once to the terms of his receivership, which limit his ability to speak publically.  The order from DC Superior Court orders Kern to “hold, preserve, administer, and operate the business and activities of Options in the best interests” of the students and the public.  The order further directs that Kern not discuss any of his tentative findings or recommendations.  It will be up to the Court to make Kern’s findings public.

PCSB was scheduled to vote on October 16 on revoking Options’ charter, but deferred in light of a request from Kern for more time to finish making a thorough assessment.  He told the PCSB he expects to make a complete report by the board’s December meeting.

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First Day of School – August 22, 2011

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ANC6b Supports Re-opening of Van Ness Elementary School

ANC6b Supports Re-opening of Van Ness Elementary School

by Larry Janezich and Anna Riehle

Reopening Van Ness Elementary School

At Tuesday night’s ANC6b meeting, newly elected Commissioner Frishberg was able to muscle a proposal supporting reopening of Van Ness Elementary School onto the agenda, over the objections of Commissioners Garrison and Oldenburg.  Garrison objected that the normal approach would be to provide the public with two weeks notice, and wanted an opportunity for it to be considered fully by the entire ANC.  (ANC6b – unlike some other ANCs, currently has no committee to consider education issues.)

Frishburg explained that timing was of essence, given that DCPS has announced that a decision would be made this month.

Councilmemberr Wells’ staffer Naomi Mitchell informed the ANC that Wells supports reopening Van Ness because the student population is expected to return there.  She said DCPS will decide whether to reopen the school, but it will definitely not be this year.  If DCPS considers the financial issues and trade-offs to be too expensive, they may still decide not to go further with this.

Commissioner Pate noted that Brent is oversubscribed, and ANC6b residents would benefit – even though the school in not in ANC6b – because the lottery system is open to residents regardless of ANC.  Commissioner Frishberg said that the success of middle and high schools rely on success of their feeder schools.

The Commission voted to send a letter in support of reopening the school to the DCPS by a vote of 9 – 0 – 1. Those in favor Glick, Campbell, Critchfield, Flahaven, Frishberg, Garrison, Green, Metzger, and Pate.  Abstaining: Oldenburg.

Details on Leadership Contest

The meeting began with election of officers.  The contest for Chair of the ANC proved anti-climactic.  Two nominees emerged: incumbent Carol Green nominated incumbent Commissioner Neil Glick and incumbent Norm Metzger nominated incumbent Kirsten Oldenburg.  Subsequently, Oldenburg withdrew her name, and the roll was called.  Glick – now unopposed – was elected, 7 -3.  Those for:  Glick, Campbell, Critchfield, Flahaven, Frishberg, Green, and Pate.  Those opposed:  Garrison, Metzger, Oldenburg.

Commissioner Pate nominated Commissioner Frishberg for Vice-Chair.  He was unopposed, and was elected 6 – 2 – 2.  Those for:  Glick, Critchfield, Flahaven, Frishberg, Green, and Pate.  Those opposed:  Garrison and Metzger.  Abstaining:  Oldenburg and Campbell.

Commissioner Metzger nominated Jared Critchfield for Secretary and he was elected unanimously.

Chair Glick nominated incumbent Green for Treasurer and she was elected unanimously.

Commissioner Metzger nominated Brian Flahaven for Parliamentarian and he was elected unanimously.

Commettee chairs will be appointed by Chair Glick, and ratified by the Commission at the February ANC meeting.

Glick announced during subsequent remarks that he will be available to meet with community members from 6:30-7:00pm before all ANC meetings

Bavarian Beer Garden Liquor License

As expected, the ANC voted to support a liquor license for Bavarian Beer Garden at their lower 8th Street and L location, contingent on the owner signing a voluntary operating agreement.  The vote was 7-3.  Those for:  Campbell, Critchfield, Flahaven, Frishberg, Green, Oldenburg, and Pate.  Those opposed:  Garrison, Glick, and Metzger.

Eastern Market Information Kiosk

During Community Speakout, Chuck Berger, representing the “Sign Tigers” who support an information kiosk on Eastern Market Metro Plaza, said that his group will discuss the proposals being considered with DDOT and Councilmember Wells’ office, and make a recommendation to DDOT.  He urged those with comments to submit them quickly, since the aforementioned meetings would start later this month.

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