KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With charter schools continuing to come into different states, including southern states, the Knox County Board of Education will decide on whether to accept the proposal for a new all-boys institution in North Knoxville.
Knoxville Preparatory School, a privately-operated and publicly funded charter school, is being proposed by the same team who found the Chattanooga Preparatory School.
If approved, the charter school could enroll boys from grades 6-12 from Knoxville.
The idea behind the development is to expand the learning model in Knoxville by opening the tuition-free charter school by 2024, according to PREP Public Schools CEO Brad Scott. He also claims that he wants the institution to be a “community-led school.”
Knox Prep submitted a 385-page application document to Knox County Schools in February. Then the KCS Charter Review committee met with representatives from Knox Prep in March.
The Knoxville National Association of the Advancement of Colored People released a statement urging the school board to reject the Knox Prep application because “of the harms, it will cause to children who attend some of our most challenged public schools, name-ly Vine and Whittle Springs Middle Schools, to the communities centered around these middle schools, and to the school district at large.”
The President of the Knoxville Branch Rev. Sam Brown sent a letter to PREP Vice Chairs Ted and Kelly Alling, and Scott demanding that they withdraw the application for the proposal.
“We understand that you seek to do good. However, as explained in the attached document, any good your charter school would do will come at the expense of serious harm to the children in the donor public schools and to the communities around those schools,” Brown said in the letter.
See the full letter from Brown here:
Brown also provided a list of “effects of the proposed Knoxville Preparatory School”:
• The charter school would attract preferred students and discourage “undesirable” students;
• The charter school could discriminate against students based on their “report card, attendance report and discipline report”;
• The charter school will place “parental engagement requirements” for parents, however, some parents may not be able to keep up with those requirements;
• The charter school would require students to wear branded uniforms, but the cost could be too expensive;
• The charter school also has re-enrollment requirements that could discourage students who are struggling in different courses.
Scott stated he received the letter and the documents. However, he is stating that the information provided had “inaccuracies”:
• Charter schools are only used as additional options for educating students.
• Students are submitted on a first-come, first-served basis, and then placed in a lottery system.
• The required report card, attendance report, and discipline report will be used to prepare the charter school for the incoming class but will “have no merit in their admissions process.”
• The charter school does not have parental engagement requirements but does ask parents to sign a commitment to pledge to their child’s success.
• Uniforms are free upon acceptance into the institution.
State Representative Sam McKenzie has also announced his opposition to the school. He shared the following statement:
Later Wednesday evening, the Education Chair of the Chattanooga Branch of NCAAP & Chattanooga Preparatory School Board Member Dr. Edna Varner released a statement in support of Knox Prep:
Varner claims she used to be against charter schools and changed her opinion because she believed the proposal for Chattanooga was about “keeping children at the center” which is a part of her goals for better education.
The school board plans to vote on April 6. If approved, the charter school could be placed on Irwin Street.