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Azleway school facing possible charter revocation

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TYLER (KYTX) - More than 150 East Texas charter school students could be forced into the public school system next year.

Wednesday, the Texas Education Agency announced Azleway Charter School was among six Texas schools slated to have its charter revoked after failing to meet certain academic and financial standards.

"Shock, be honest with you, we were not expecting this at all," said Gary Duke, Azleway CEO.

The decision to revoke these charters is the result of new state legislation passed during this year's session.

Senate bill 2 requires mandatory revocation of a charter by the commissioner of education, if a charter holder has failed to meet academic or financial accountability performance ratings, for the three preceding school years.
The process to close a poor performing charter school use to take several years.

"The legislature felt it was taking too long and we certainly agree with that...and lawmakers enacted this new requirement," said Debbie Ratcliffe with the Texas Education Agency. 

Azleway Charter School received an "academically unacceptable" rating during the 2010-11 school year and a financial accountability performance rating of "substandard achievement" during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years.

"We were late in submitting our annual audit.  We had some internal difficulties in terms of the loss of our chief financial officer and we just couldn't get it done in time," explained Duke.

Azleway CEO Gary Duke says changes have been made in administration to try and get the school back on track financially.

But, when it comes to academics, he says there are challenges that are hard to overcome.

The vast majority of Azleway students were removed from their homes and the state now acts as their guardian.  Many of the kids have been abused, neglected, or abandoned.

"We often get kids that are 15, 16-years-old that are reading on a third and fourth grade level. No matter what you do you're not going to be able in one academic year to bring them up to grade level expectations," explained Duke.

If Azleway's charter is revoked, it would have to shut down on June 30, 2014. Azleway plans to appeal the state's decision. 

Education leaders said they could re-open as a private school, but they wouldn't be eligible for state funding. 



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