Strange Bedfellows: Fearing the Worst, Dallas ISD Considering a Partnership With South Dallas Charter School

Dallas ISD is considering a partnership with a long-time South Dallas charter school, possibly as an end run to prevent a separate collaboration between the campus and a bigger charter school operator. During a monthly board briefing Thursday, DISD’s chief of staff Pam Lear presented a proposal to trustees about bringing St. Anthony’s School into the district as an in-district charter elementary school.The district would spend $10 million to renovate one of its nearby shuttered campuses, Wheatley Elementary, closed in 2012. And St. Anthony’s, under a yet-to-be-finalized performance contract, would keep its autonomy and governance structure, and decide on the school’s staffing, schedule, curricula, professional development and more.Lear’s presentation hit on a number of benefits for DISD through the partnership, including a small increase in student enrollment, providing another option for parents in the area, and giving the South Dallas neighborhood a school of choice; St. Anthony’s is in its fourth year as an authorized International Baccalaureate school.But unspoken, at least by DISD administration, was a key rationale behind the possible pairing.The high-performing school, which used to be a private school operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas until it was authorized by the Texas Education Agency as a charter operator in 2003, was considering forming a partnership with another charter operator — International Leadership of Texas — according to trustee Joyce Foreman.Such a pairing “would have killed the DISD schools in South Dallas,” Foreman said, if the two charters opened a new K-12 school in the area.Located in South Dallas, right off Malcolm X Boulevard, St. Anthony’s serves 223 elementary-aged students — nearly all of them African-American — from kindergarten through the fifth grade. It also has approximately 100 students in its middle school.Foreman and Bernadette Nutall, the trustee for the neighborhood where St. Anthony’s currently sits, both offered their unlikely support for the district’s fledgling plan — unlikely because the duo have fought hard against charter schools gaining inroads in Dallas’ southern sector.In 2016, Foreman lobbied hard against plans from another operator, Uplift Education, to open a K-12 school near Interstate 35E and Camp Wisdom Road. That plan narrowly received approval from the Dallas City Council.  Continue reading...

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