Reach Academy supporters plead for school to stay open

By Tom Lehman 12:39am, November 7, 2013 - Updated 11:37am, November 7, 2013
Dozens spoke out against the possible closing of Reach Academy for Girls during a public hearing Wednesday night.

WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.

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On Monday, the Charter School Accountability Committee voted Monday against renewing the school's charter. The school, located near New Castle, serves students in Kindergarten through eighth grade.

Reach Academy's President, Rev. Canon Lloyd Casson said he agrees with the committee's findings of low student achievement but disagreed with the group's recommendation.

"What we do take issue with is the notion that we don't understand that situation and cannot interpret data," Cassan said.

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The committee found achievement data at Reach, which is located near New Castle, was among the lowest in the state and students' proficiency levels were below or far below the average in nearly every category.

Only 25.1 percent of students finished the school year proficient in mathematics after the last school year, the committee said.

The panel also found 42.5 percent were proficient in English language arts.

The school's principal, Tara Allen also called for the school's charter to be renewed. Education Secretary Mark Murphy is expected to make a decision on Reach Academy's fate next week.

"This is the only all-girl public school in Delaware and we're not going down without a fight," Allen said.

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Reach Academy graduates also rallied to support the school's efforts to stay open beyond the current school year.

"You don't want Reach Academy, you need Reach Academy," said Sequoia Clark-Cole, a 14-year-old graduate of the school. "You're gonna keep Reach Academy because quitting and all that other stuff don't work at Reach Academy."

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Reach's charter was placed on probation in 2011 because of financial and governance issues but that measure was removed earlier this year after the school meeting conditions.

Education Secretary Mark Murphy will make a decision on the school's fate next week. If he decides against renewing the charter, it would mean Reach Academy would close after the end of the current school year.

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