The only unionized charter school in Washington, D.C., César Chávez PCS for Public Policy (Prep) Middle School, will be closing in June, forcing its 235 students to look for another place to study next year.
Two Chavez high schools will be merging as part of a restructuring plan by the trustees.
Four schools are expected to merge into one by 2020. Another middle school owned by the network will also close by 2020 due to its poor academic performance.
School employees, who have been seeking contracts after the school became the first charter school in the District to unionize, were shocked by the news.
“We started bargaining our contract in August of 2017. We’ve been bargaining on contract ever since, which is a ridiculous amount of time to bargain a contract. It still remains to be seen how that process is going to play out given what happened yesterday,” said Christian Herr, a union leader and a science teacher at the school.
Established in 1998, Chavez Schools have been one of the longest-standing charter school networks in D.C. The school was run by an education consulting firm TenSquare, and questions were raised about the finances spent on the firm and transparency issues between the firm, board members, trustees and the school staff.
— ABC 7 News – WJLA (@ABC7News) January 25, 2019
A year ago, Chavez schools CEO Emily Silberstein was informed in a meeting with the D.C. Public Charter School Board that these closures were imminent, according to the network spokesperson.
“This is not a closure of the network by any stretch. This is actually an investment in one campus to build it out to a very stable and strong school that will serve our students down the road in grades 6-12 for years to come,” said Silberstein.
Recently, there have been announcements about closure of several charter schools in D.C. This week, D.C. Public Charter School Board said that the National Collegiate Prep High School in Ward 8 will be closed by the end of 2019-20 school year. SEED D.C. middle school will also be closing in 2020, and so will Democracy Prep at the end of June. Another school, City Arts & Prep PCS, will also be closing at the end of current school year.
More than 1,500 students will have to look for new schools due to these closures.