SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

July 22, 2013

State takes action against Salem Community Charter School

Small school inside Salem mall targets dropouts, at-risk kids

(Continued)

On July 31, the School Committee will hold a joint meeting with the trustees of the Salem Community Charter School to discuss the state action, the superintendent said.

Driscoll said she is “very concerned” about the DESE site visit observations, but also understands that the school is taking on a challenging assignment.

“I am supportive of providing options for young people in our city who have dropped out or are in danger of dropping out, which this school does,” she wrote in an email. “The work is extremely hard and many of the students served by the charter school come from very challenging backgrounds and heart-wrenching situations.

“Even though the school is only in its second year of operation, they have had success graduating a number of students, and that is important not only for the students, but for our community. That being said, the school has to improve in the areas noted by DESE, especially low student attendance and instructional practices.”

The state education department said it will keep close watch over the school.

“Depending on the school’s success in meeting (or not meeting) the conditions, Commissioner Chester will recommend further action as appropriate,” J.C. Considine, a spokesman for the commissioner, wrote in an email. “We’ll keep apprised of the situation through site visits and reviews of materials that the school submits to us.”

The Salem Community Charter School was created by former Superintendent William Cameron and the School Committee, in part, in response to a threat by an outside group to open a similar charter school locally.

It opened in September 2011 for 50 local students who had either dropped out of high school or were at risk of dropping out. According to its charter, it is supposed to grow by 25 students every year until it reaches a student body of 125.

On Friday, it held a graduation for 10 students.

Tom Dalton can be reached at tdalton@salemnews.com.

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