Char­ter­schools:

IDEA an­nounce­ment comes day af­ter school district voted to dis­solve part­ner­ship.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Melissa B. Taboada mtaboada@states­man.com

A day af­ter Austin school trustees voted to dis­solve the district’s part­ner­ship with IDEA Pub­lic Schools, lead­ers of the char­ter op­er­a­tor an­nounced they would forge ahead with plans to start its own school apart from the district.

One day af­ter Austin school trustees voted to dis­solve the district’s part­ner­ship with IDEA Pub­lic Schools, lead­ers of the South Texas based char­ter op­er­a­tor an­nounced Tues­day they would forge ahead with plans to start a school apart from the district.

The new lo­ca­tion has not yet been cho­sen, but char­ter lead­ers said they have sev­eral op­tions in set­ting up their own school. IDEA of­fi­cials said they hope to an­nounce a lo­ca­tion and time­line for the new cam­pus in Jan­uary.

Char­ter of­fi­cials al­ready op­er­ate a sin­gle school in Austin, and they would not say whether the new cam­pus will re­main in East Austin, where the school it now runs is lo­cated.

Larkin Tack­ett, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the lo­cal IDEA char­ter, which is housed in the district’s Al­lan Ele­men­tary cam­pus in East Austin, said the char­ter com­mit­ted to see­ing this year’s kinder­garten stu­dents to and through col­lege, “and last night’s vote by the AISD board doesn’t change that fact.”

“We are in this for the long haul,” Tack­ett said. “Our prom­ise is stronger than the pre­vail­ing po­lit­i­cal winds.”

Late Mon­day night, Austin trustees re­versed last year’s con­tro­ver­sial board de­ci­sion for the char­ter op­er­a­tor to take over an East Austin school. The district had con­tracted with IDEA to grow

into a sec­ond East Austin school, East­side Me­mo­rial High School, as early as Au­gust.

But last month’s school board elec­tion put in place three trustees who op­posed the char­ter agree­ment; they joined two trustees who voted against the part­ner­ship last year, giv­ing them the ma­jor­ity. One month into the char­ter school’s ex­is­tence, trustees voted 5-4 on Mon­day to dis­solve the part­ner­ship with IDEA at the end of the school year.

Those in the mi­nor­ity cau­tioned be­fore the vote that end­ing the part­ner­ship with­out a firm plan for East­side Me­mo­rial, which in the past has failed to meet the state’s aca­demic stan­dards, and the schools that feed into it. But trustees who voted for the move said the part­ner­ship dam­aged the com­mu­nity’s trust in the district and re­mained a di­vi­sive is­sue.

In the days lead­ing up to the vote, re­la­tions be­tween the two part­ners ap­peared strained.

Just be­fore the vote, Trustee Jayme Mathias al­luded to IDEA “talk­ing smack” about the school board.

IDEA Pub­lic Schools CEO Tom Torkel­son said last week that if the new board ended the part­ner­ship in its in­fancy, it would “go down as the most knee-jerk re­ac­tionary board in the na­tion.”

But Tues­day morn­ing, Torkel­son steered away from the com­ments when asked to eval­u­ate the board’s de­ci­sion and whether his words contributed to the dam­age in the re­la­tion­ship.

“I’m really fo­cused

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