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Kairos Academy to ask for hearing over termination of charter

Kairos Academy is a high school for girls with unique needs, such as pregnant and parenting teens, in West Valley City on Thursday, June 22, 2017. The State Charter Board has recommended that Kairos Academy be shut down due to poor performance on standard
Kairos Academy is a high school for girls with unique needs, such as pregnant and parenting teens, in West Valley City on Thursday, June 22, 2017. The State Charter Board has recommended that Kairos Academy be shut down due to poor performance on standardized tests and failure to comply with board recommendations.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The board of directors of Kairos Academy, a public charter school in West Valley City that serves teen mothers and pregnant teens, plans to appeal a recent decision by the State Charter School Board to terminate its charter.

A press release issued by the school's board of directors late Monday said it will seek a hearing before the State Charter School Board and, if necessary, an appeal to the elected Utah State Board of Education.

The school had been on probation for two years over concerns about enrollment and qualifications of its faculty.

"We believe that we have met and addressed the items outlined in the terms of probation. The school and its governing board feels that they did not receive clear guidance or direct, open communication from the State Charter Board to facilitate a successful completion of the probation process," the press release states.

Jennifer Lambert, executive director of the State Charter School Board, said the office has not received a written request for an informal hearing, but Kairos Academy has until July 5 to make a request.

"If Kairos Academy requests a hearing, the State Charter School Board would carefully consider the school’s evidence of meeting the terms of probation and make a decision that is in the best interest of students. The State Charter School Board has worked with Kairos Academy over multiple probations to help the school address the identified deficiencies and provide a good education for students.

"The State Charter School Board is very concerned that students receive a good education, have a positive school experience and are provided the assistance they need to be successful. The vast majority of charter schools do an excellent job educating students and providing a positive academic experience. As an authorizer, it is the State Charter School Board’s duty to provide for positive student outcomes by authorizing, overseeing and elevating successful public charter schools," Lambert said in a prepared statement.

The press release notes that Kairos Academy is a small school with an enrollment of just over 100 students for the coming school year.

"Our school serves over 77 percent ethnic minorities and 77 percent economically disadvantaged students. We are not a typical high school with typical goals. In an effort to address a major barrier to graduation for our students, we also provide high quality on-site child care so they can be at school while also caring for their children," the press release said.

Teen mothers face multiple barriers to complete high school.

"They are often neglected by most district and charter schools to the point that they drop out. In fact, more than 50 percent of the students who choose to enroll at Kairos Academy have already dropped out of high school. They need our help and most have no other place to go. We care deeply about our students’ futures and the futures of their children. We are willing to do whatever it takes to keep the doors open for our students," the press release states.

The State Charter School Board voted unanimously to terminate the school's charter on June 20.