Tyler (KYTX) --- Letters are pouring into Austin in support of an East Texas school system in danger of having its charter revoked. Azleway school leaders asked former students, those close to current students, and knowledgeable community leaders to vouch for their efforts as they appeal the Commissioner of Education's decision.
"There was no warning," Tom DeWitt, School Board President of Azleway Charter School, said.
The letter arrived right before the holidays. It was the first time Azleway had been accused of being an under performing school. One reason: an unacceptable academic rating in 2010-2011, but board members say that no longer holds up.
"TEA has determined that criteria wasn't appropriate for residential treatment facilities like ours," DeWitt said.
There are 150 kids in the Azleway school system-- most assigned to be there through the foster care program or the courts.
"We're focused on taking the kids who, in most cases, have already been through more in life than you and I would want to see," DeWitt said.
DeWitt believes this stems from the legislature giving the commissioner more control over charter schools.
"It was not the intention of the legislature that residential treatment schools be singled out. But that's what ended up happening," DeWitt said.
Letters have been written to the commissioner defending Azleway. Mayor Barbara Bass wrote on behalf of the city of Tyler, and says in part: "It provides an important service for a population that will be less likely to succeed if their charter is revoked," Bass said.
Ultimately if the appeal is not granted these kids would go back into the public school arena. But DeWitt said when that was done years ago, these types of special students didn't work out.
"We honestly believe that we are providing the best possible opportunities," DeWitt said.
Five other schools are also in danger of having their charters revoked--none in East Texas.
According to the TEA, a closed hearing will probably take place within the next month. Azleway also says the Commissioner is expected to visit the facilities during the review process.