Arlington charter school gets a reprieve from Texas

Arlington charter school gets a reprieve from Texas


May 27, 2010

Special to the Star-Telegram

ARLINGTON — The Jean Massieu Academy has averted a July 1 shutdown after
state officials determined that the charter school has improved its poor
academic and financial performance.

The Texas Education Agency was set to strip Jean Massieu’s accreditation but
instead gave the school, which specializes in programs for deaf students, a
year of probation to continue fixing its problems.

“They have been given a reprieve here,” agency spokeswoman Suzanne Marchman
said. She said Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott “has determined
that closing the school would not serve the students despite the fact that
the school has had a long-standing history of deficits in their leadership
and their academic performance and their finances.”

The agency will also appoint a financial conservator to work with the school
on its budget and audit issues. The school has had an academic monitor and
then conservator in place since the 2007-08 school year to work on student

“I’m just thrilled that we can continue,” school office manager Lissa Lloyd
said. “We’ve got a unique school here, and I believe we are filling a need.”

Jean Massieu, which opened in 1999 to serve primarily deaf children and
their families, has been rated academically unacceptable by the state four
years in a row. It received a substandard rating in financial accountability
for problems that include late filing of audit data with the state.

The school has about 100 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade,
about 25 of whom are deaf. Others have siblings or parents who are deaf, and
82 percent of the students are considered at risk. The tuition-free school
receives only state and federal funding, Lloyd said.

Scott announced in March that the school had to close July 1, citing
“serious and persistent deficiencies.” But school Superintendent Kathi
Johnson, who started as principal in 2008-09, helped convince state
officials that her school had changed course, with new personnel and
improved curriculum and financial accountability.

“The academy has made an impressive turnaround,” Marchman said. “The
school’s efforts have begun to bear fruit.”


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