Chicago Public Schools puts five charters on notice

Schools face possible shut down if they don't improve by June 2014.

October 30, 2013

(WBEZ/Bill Healy)

Saying that every type of school must be accountable for upholding rigorous academic standards, Chicago Public Schools put five charter schools on its academic warning list.

District CEO Barbara Bryd-Bennett said the five academically weak charters will have to get better or face closure, possibly at the end of next school year.

One of the schools, Catalyst Howland, is on the warning list for the second year in a row. Dozens of students from Chicago’s closed schools enrolled there—and could now see their new school shut down too.

"Obviously, I’m concerned," Byrd-Bennett said about Catalyst Howland and the influx of students from closed schools. "Charter schools exist because it provides parents an opportunity for choice. Our parents made the choice, and I think we’ve made the choice to call out that we want this school to rise to the level that we expect for all of our schools."

Students from shuttered Paderewski, Pope, Emmet and eight other closed schools arrived at Catalyst Howland this year.

Also on the warning list is an UNO grammar school in Gage Park, Rufino Tamayo. UNO is one of the city’s largest charter networks. The group has come under investigation in the last year by both state and federal authorities for possible ethics violations.

One of the city’s oldest charter schools is on the warning list: CICS-Longwood is part of the city's largest charter network, Chicago International Charter Schools.

The schools on academic warning, which also include Catalyst Circle Rock and EPIC Academy, must all submit a "remediation plan" to the district by November 15, charting how they'll improve.

The district first announced the charter academic warning list last February. Since then, five schools were removed from the list. Two charter schools are being phased out due to poor performance.

Altogether, fewer than 5 percent of charters are on academic warning.  By comparison, about 40 percent of district-run schools are on probation.