Jean Massieu Academy in Arlington ordered to close in summer
By TRACI SHURLEY and EVA-MARIE AYALA
[email protected], [email protected]
ARLINGTON — The state ordered the Jean Massieu Academy in Arlington to
close this summer after revoking its accreditation as a school district, the
Texas Education Agency announced Wednesday.
School officials have until Friday to ask Texas Education Commissioner
Robert Scott for a hearing to reconsider the closure.
Jean Massieu, which opened in 1999 to serve primarily deaf children and
their families, lost accreditation because of its poor performance on state
academic and financial accountability systems. It has been rated
academically unacceptable by the state four years in a row and received
substandard rating in financial accountability for failing to turn records
in to the state on time.
“While it saddens me to take this action, given the expectations of state
law and my concern for the long-term education of the students served by
Jean Massieu Academy, I am compelled to move forward with this action,”
Scott wrote to school leaders. Additionally, he noted that the school had
continual issues in its special-education program for “serious and
School officials did not return messages seeking comment.
The charter-school campus was one of only four charter schools or districts
in the state to have their accreditation status revoked because of
substandard academic or financial ratings.
The TEA has been accrediting school districts for three years and charter
schools for two.
This year, 1,198 out of 1,232 districts or charters schools were accredited.
Fourteen schools had their accreditations left pending because of ongoing
investigations. Two districts and three charter schools received
accredited-probation status, including the Metro Academy of Math and Science
in Arlington, which received the rating because of poor academic and
Jean Massieu has had a monitor and then a conservator in place over the past
21/2 years who cited ongoing concerns about special education, staffing
qualifications and poor financial management.
The school had long struggled to keep a school leader, Jean Massieu
officials had said in past interviews.
In the spring, conservator Rebecca Lofton reported that despite desperately
needing revenue, school leaders did not follow up on opportunities such as
those related to natural gas or working with the city to lease parking
spaces during Cowboys Stadium events. The business manager was removed this
summer, and financial responsibilities were contracted out to the Region 11
Education Service Center.
In recent months, Lofton said that Superintendent Katherine Johnson had been
making significant improvements to the school and brought in experienced
educators and organized curriculum. Johnson began leading the school about
two years ago.
In her January report, Lofton said that the board was more involved in
building oversight but still needed to do more to raise funds for the
campus. Lofton wrote that Johnson was working with teachers who were not
performing up to standards but that data showed “continuing instructional
What happens next
If Scott changed his mind about revoking the accreditation, he could decide
to appoint a board of managers to take over for the school’s board of
directors, spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson.
If the revocation stands, the TEA will go to the campus after the school
year ends and secure student records for families. Then they’ll settle up
accounts, paying anything that is owed back to the state or to parents,
Culbertson said. Students would return to their home district or another
charter school in the fall.
Culbertson said the decision to revoke accreditation isn’t one that Scott
treats lightly. Several measures are taken, such as the conservatorship, to
avoid it. Conservators act as the commissioner’s representative and can
overrule school officials on some decisions.
Unfortunately, Culbertson said, some districts and charter schools cannot
regain their footing even with the state’s help. In those situations, “it’s
better just to give these kids a better chance, to get them out of a
situation that’s almost hopeless,” she said.
The Arlington, Birdville, Crowley and Fort Worth school districts work with
the state to provide for students in the Regional Day School Program for the
Deaf. Arlington has such programs at Miller Elementary, Young Junior High
and Martin High schools.
EVA-MARIE AYALA, 817-390-7700