Oklahoma City School Board denies charter schools, declines to reveal reasons

The Oklahoma City School Board rejected two charter school applications at a meeting Monday.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: January 9, 2013
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The Oklahoma City School Board on Monday night denied applications from two charter schools but kept the reasons for the denials secret.

The board voted unanimously to reject applications from Harper Academy and Lighthouse of Hope Academy, a vote that matched a recommendation by a school district committee tasked with evaluating the charter school requests.

The board heard presentations from the applicants at a meeting last month, but discussion Monday night at the board's public meeting was brief.

Tammy Carter, legal counsel for the school district, gave a “confidential memorandum” outlining problems with the charter school applications to school board members.

“The specific reasons are listed in the memorandum I provided to you,” Carter told the board Monday night.

Carter rejected a state Open Records Act request from The Oklahoman for a copy of the memorandum, citing attorney-client privilege.

“Those memorandum were not from the committee,” Carter wrote in an email. “They were from me to the board. They are covered by the attorney-client privilege and I cannot release them.”

State law allows documents to be kept private because of attorney-client privilege only if the documents are related to pending litigation where “disclosure will seriously impair the ability of the public officer or agency to process the claim or conduct a pending investigation, litigation or proceeding in the public interest.”

Attorney-client privileges are strictly limited when the client is a government entity, said Joey Senat, an open government expert and an associate journalism professor at Oklahoma State University.

Keeping the memorandum secret is “nonsense,” Senat said.

“Just because it's from an attorney doesn't mean that it can be kept from the public,” he said. “The school district's playing games with the Open Records Act.”

Committee reviewed applications



AT A GLANCE

Oklahoma City charter schools

Oklahoma City Public Schools is home to several charter schools, and another one is in the works for downtown Oklahoma City. Here is information about the current schools, including the A to F school evaluation grade from the state Education Department. For reference, the poverty rate for the district as a whole is about 88 percent, and the district received a grade of D overall.

ASTEC Charter High School

Address: 2401 NW 23

Enrollment: 385 students

Grades: Nine to 12

Poverty rate: 74 percent

School grade: B

ASTEC Charter Middle School

Address: 2401 NW 23

Enrollment: 379 students

Grades: Six to eight

Poverty rate: 94 percent

School grade: C

Dove Elementary School

Address: 4901 N Lincoln

Enrollment: 296 students

Grades: Kindergarten to five

Poverty rate: 76 percent

School grade: B

Dove Science Academy

Address: 919 NW 23

Enrollment: 473 students

Grades: Six to 12

Poverty rate: 81 percent

School grade: A

Harding Charter Prep

Address: 3333 N Shartel

Enrollment: 467 students

Grades: Nine to 12

Poverty rate: 42 percent

School grade: A

Harding Fine Arts

Address: 3333 N Shartel

Enrollment: 317 students

Grades: Nine to 12

Poverty rate: 55 percent

School grade: B

Independence Charter Middle School

Address: 3232 NW 65

Enrollment: 303 students

Grades: Six to eight

Poverty rate: 49 percent

School grade: B

SeeWorth Academy

Address: 12600 N Kelley

Enrollment: 480 students

Grades: Three to 12

Poverty rate: 100 percent

School grade: D

KIPP Reach College Preparatory

Address: 1901 NE 13

Enrollment: 272 students

Grades: Five to eight

Poverty rate: 83 percent

School grade: A

Marcus Garvey Leadership Charter School

Address: 1537 NE 24

Enrollment: 181 students

Grades: Prekindergarten to eight

Poverty rate: 93 percent

School grade: D

Santa Fe South Middle School

Address: 4712 S Santa Fe

Enrollment: 381 students

Grades: Six to eight

Poverty rate: 93 percent

School grade: C

Santa Fe South High School

Address: 301 SE 38

Enrollment: 551 students

Grades: Nine to 12

Poverty rate: 88 percent

School grade: C

Stanley Hupfeld Academy at Western Village

Address: 1508 NW 106

Enrollment: 330 students

Grades: Prekindergarten to five

Poverty rate: 91 percent

School grade: C

SOURCE: State Education Department

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