January 26, 2016
In an emotionally charged room of parents, the state education board voted narrowly on Tuesday to revoke the charter of Dorchester Collegiate Academy Charter School. It appeared Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester's recommendation might deadlock before the board until member Michael Moriarty raised his hand to tip the balance in a 6-4 decision.
He told the News Service he made up his mind how to vote when the vote was called.
"Y'all are crazy," yelled Aisha Barnes, who stormed out of the Roxbury gymnasium where the meeting took place, sobbing. Barnes said she doesn't know what she will do for her daughter, who she said was troubled before enrolling in the charter.
Headmaster Bob Flynn said the school specializes in providing counseling to its students in grades 4 through 8. Chester said the school has been beset by lackluster academics and attrition. The board in 2014 placed the school on probation.
"While the school claims to serve a population of students with substantially greater social and emotional needs than is typical, there is no data to support this assertion," Chester wrote in a Jan. 15 memo to the board. "Although serving students with special needs is central to the school's mission, the school has failed to maintain a consistent staff with expertise in serving special needs students."
In the same memo, Chester said state officials have been working with the school and city officials to schedule an enrollment information session "to ensure that the families are aware of all their public school options for the next school year." Earlier Tuesday, the board voted to designate the Southbridge public schools as chronically underperforming and to put the district into state receivership.