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Oklahoma City Public Schools officials outline reasons for rejecting charter schools

Oklahoma City Public Schools officials have announced why two charter school applications were rejected. The school district's attorney declined to release the information after the board voted to decline the applications.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: January 17, 2013

The Oklahoma City School Board rejected two charter school applications because the applicants did not plan for key things like discipline, staff benefits and special education students.

The school board unanimously rejected applications from Harper Academy and Lighthouse of Hope Academy last week, but the reasons for the denials initially were kept secret.

The board voted to deny the applications at the recommendation of a school district committee tasked with evaluating the applicants' budgets, programs, services and other details.

The charter school applicants will have 30 days to respond to the specific reasons for rejection. If the school board still says no, the applicants can choose to go to arbitration.

Tammy Carter, general counsel for the school district, sent letters last week to the applicants, outlining the reasons the schools were rejected.

Harper Charter Academy

Harper Charter Academy was designed to serve high-risk students, such as dropouts, pregnant or parenting teens or those with behavior problems. The school would be at 3915 N Pennsylvania Ave.

Carter listed in a letter the reasons the application was rejected:

• The personnel budget is unrealistically low, including $47,000 for a high school principal. Staff benefits are not included in the budget.

• The staff ratio of 1:21 is too high for an alternative school. Eight teachers aren't enough to fulfill electives. One special-education teacher would not be enough, and no teacher was proposed for teaching students who are learning English as a second language.

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