Deal struck to keep Silver State Charter School operating

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While far from completely happy with the deal, the Nevada Charter School Authority on Friday signed off on language to install a receiver in charge of Silver State Charter School.

The petition to name a receiver to replace the existing school board of governors will be filed in Carson District Court.

The authority in March gave the school a chance to fix its ongoing problems including a 26.5 percent graduation rate. The receiver will have control over the school and be required to “reconstitute” the governing board by July 2019. In the meantime, the school, which has 240 students this semester, is going to be allowed to continue operating.

The alternative was to formally adopt the order revoking Silver State’s charter, which would force it to shut its doors at the end of this school year next month.

Greg Ott, deputy attorney general representing authority, said a key addition to the settlement was to require major changes to the school’s governing bylaws go not only through the authority board but the district court that’s going to manage the receivership.

In addition, Ott said, the existing school board wanted to give Executive Director Kit Kotler a year to see if the changes she has made help improve the school’s performance. During that year, the deal says, she can’t be fired without cause. Silver State lawyer Ryan Russell agreed, however, the receiver will be in charge of the school and its progress.

Kotler, who was brought in to try to fix the school, said at a previous meeting she has already implemented a number of changes.

She said the goal is to greatly improve the school’s graduation rate, which she said is terrible. But she said that’s in part because the students at Silver State are on average four years behind in math skills and three in English language skills when they arrive at Silver State. She said it’s hard to catch them up by graduation.

The language also gives some protection to teachers at the school.

That prompted authority vice chairwoman Melissa Mackedon to say the agreement is “everything that is wrong with education in the United States of America.”

“All these decisions are based on what is best for adults, not for students,” she said.

Statewide, Authority Director Patrick Gavin said he supports the language, which took lawyers for the school and the authority six weeks to work out even though the authority members may not be completely happy with it. He said Silver State’s board isn’t completely happy with her.

The authority board voted in January to revoke Silver State’s charter after auditors said the school violated state law by investing more than $3 million of public money in derivative contracts not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. There also were complaints about the extremely low graduation rate, student achievement scores and other issues.

The vote to accept the language of the petition for receivership was 6-1 with only Mackedon opposed.

Silver State isn’t the only charter school in Nevada having serious problems. Overall, those charter schools are only graduating 40 percent of students compared to 70 percent for the traditional public school system. State law requires they graduate at least 60 percent of students, federal law 67 percent.


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