Board of Education hears case on closing struggling charter school

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A group of passionate and protective parents led a heated and sometimes emotional debate Wednesday about the future of Southwest Early College High School.

Less than three months after Shelby County Schools recommended closing the campus, which is run by Artesian Schools, the Tennessee State Board of Education heard from SCS, the school itself and from members of the public.

“We feel it’s very important to the process," Board of Education Executive Director Sara Morrison said. "These are evolving cases, so often when we hold the public hearing, new information has presented itself."

The school district’s case for revoking Southwest’s charter includes a lack of institutional control, unlicensed teachers and inadequate special education resources.

The school had a lengthy rebuttal, explaining what they perceive as fixes to most issues, along with strong academic performances relative to the rest of the district.

“When the district and the school sit down and work out issues like responsible, grown-up adults, you can make progress on behalf of kids," defense attorney Tom Lee said.

Dozens of children have already transferred from Southwest, since SCS launched their investigation months ago, and concerned parents believe after years of issues, it’s time for Southwest to close its doors for good.

“Every year, it’s been something different," said Iseashia Thomas, who removed her child from the school. "So at this point, how many chances do you get when it comes to children?”

After the dust settled following the lengthy, passionate hearing, the Board of Education announced they will make a final decision Jan. 6.

Members of the public can submit written comments on this issue until next Wednesday.

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