Azleway joins suit to stop charter revocation

Published on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 00:00 - Written by Emily Guevara, eguevara@tylerpaper.com

 

Azleway Charter School has taken another step aimed at preserving its future. It joined a lawsuit.

School board President Tom DeWitt said the five-member board voted unanimously on Monday to join a lawsuit filed against the Texas Education Agency by Austin-based American Youthworks, a charter school.

“The lawsuit says that American YouthWork’s charter revocation is based on an ‘unconstitutionally retroactive law, and absent judicial intervention, is a foregone conclusion,’” according to an Austin American-Statesman article.

DeWitt said the issues raised in that charter school’s lawsuit are so similar to the ones Azleway raised in its appeal that it “only makes sense to seek relief from the court in the same way as American Youthworks.”

He said the charter invited Azleway to participate in the suit and the board agreed. Azleway joined as an intervener, which means the court can make a single ruling covering both schools, reject both or rule differently for both schools, DeWitt said.

Azleway and American Youthworks are among six Texas charter schools set to close after the Texas Education Agency announced in December it was revoking their charters as a result of legislation passed during the 2013 session. The four other schools are in the Houston and Dallas areas.

The schools meet the criteria for revocation because they failed to meet certain academic and financial standards in the preceding three school years, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Azleway, which has three campuses in New Chapel Hill, Big Sandy and at Willow Bend, 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.

Although Azleway appealed the decision, the state announced in February that the revocation process will continue.

DeWitt said the school officials are disappointed the commissioner did not send anyone to meet with them and discuss the merits of the revocation or the issues raised in their appeal.

“There was no one else included in that process, not us and not any of those people who had intervened with TEA on our behalf,” he said.

Texas Education Agency officials have said the law requires them to take action, according to the Austin American-Statesman article.

A final hearing for Azleway before an administrative law judge is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 29 in Austin.

If the revocation is completed, it will be effective June 30.