Frustrated parents want under-performing charter school closed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Frustrated and disappointed parents are demanding that Southwest Early College High School, a charter school, be shut down.

They took their concerns about the school not meeting expectations to the Shelby County School Board during a board meeting Tuesday night.

"I stand here today asking you to please revoke their charter," parent Iseashia Thomas told the board.

Many of the same parents protested outside the school Monday, along with student advocacy group Memphis Lift. The protesters chanted, "This high school must close! This high school must close!"

A number of parents who filed complaints with Southwest said the charter school doesn't have nearly enough teachers. They also say several current teachers aren't qualified to teach the courses they've been assigned to.

"The children are not being educated," Dianechia Fields said.

She pulled her 11th grade son out of Southwest last month. She said the school's had problems since it started in 2017, and she claimed things are so bad now that her son, like many other students, isn't on track to graduate.

"If kids are not on track to graduate high school, it's not high quality education," she said.

The school's supposed to offer students a way to earn an associate degree upon graduation from high school, but parents know that can't happen if students can't even get their diplomas.

"To have this opportunity presented to them and give them hope that not only am I going to get my high school diploma, I'm going to graduate with this college degree, and I got a great start on the world, and then it all crumbles down," Fields said.

Shelby County Schools recently completed an investigation into the issues at Southwest, but the district hasn't released it's findings. Superintendent Joris Ray said he's currently reviewing them with the school and the board.

"We took all of the concerns and allegations very seriously, and we definitely (are) doing our due-diligence," Ray said.

He said he'll have a recommendation on what to do with Southwest Early College High School by the end of the week.

WREG asked the charter school's administration if they had anything to say about parents' concerns, but we have not heard back.

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