New Haven Charter School Moves Ahead With Plans to Open Next Month

The school's future has been uncertain.

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    NBCConnecticut.com
    The state Board of Education meets to discuss the future of New Haven's newest charter school, the Booker T. Washington Academy.

    The future of New Haven’s newest charter school was uncertain after it cut ties with its troubled parent organization, but after three hours of testimony from parents and administrators, the state Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to open the school this fall.

    Parents and supporters cheered outside the State Office Building on Capitol Avenue when they learned that the Booker T. Washington Academy will welcome its inaugural class of kindergarten and first-grade students next month.

    The board imposed several conditions at the meeting Monday afternoon, including dropping the school’s charter term from five years to three, requiring the school to submit financial and performance reports after its first year and reducing enrollment from 225 to 120 students.

    Today’s meeting was held after the school was forced to revise its application when the CEO of then-parent organization, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), resigned amid controversy surrounding his credentials.

    John Taylor was subsequently named executive director of the new charter school, and recently retired superintendent of New Haven Public Schools, Dr. Reginald Mayo, was appointed his mentor.

    School leaders are confident the academy will be met with success.

    “We’re excited, and probably most excited for our parents, who have been on hold waiting [to see] if we’re going to open this year,” Taylor said.

    Jeremiah Grace, Connecticut State Director at the Northeast Charter Schools Network, released a statement in response to the Board's decision Monday afternoon, which reads, in part:

    "We applaud the state board for keeping its commitment and extending this lifeline to 120 of the 1,300 New Haven children languishing on charter school wait lists. The founders of Booker T. Washington Academy have emerged from the FUSE episode with experienced new leadership and a plan for the future."

    A release from the state Board of Education says the charter school aims to provide opportunity for students living in poverty, especially those growing up in the Dixwell-Newhalville neighborhood.

    The school year begins Sept. 15.