Charters revoked for American YouthWorks, five others


by SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News, photojournalist CHRIS SHADROCK and

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheltonG_KVUE

Posted on December 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 19 at 11:17 PM

AUSTIN -- A Senate bill passed during the last Legislative session could force six open-enrollment charter schools to close, including one in Austin.

The Texas Education Agency said on Thursday that each school meets the criteria for their charters to be revoked under Senate Bill 2.

This means the schools didn't meet academic or financial requirements over the past three years.

Starting on June 30, 2014, charters will be revoked for the following Texas schools:

  • American Youthworks (Austin)
  • Azleway Charter School (Tyler)
  • Honors Academy (Farmers Branch)
  • Jamie’s House Charter School (Houston)
  • Koinonia Community Learning Academy (Houston)
  • Richard Milburn Academy (Suburban Houston campus)

“The problem is, the TEA is a bureaucracy, and they see things like a hammer, and everything they see is a nail. They don't really have an easy way for them to evaluate a dynamic program like ours,” said Parc Smith, CEO of American YouthWorks.

The Austin nonprofit has been in existence for 30 years and helps close to 400 at-risk youth get their G.E.D. and job and technical training.

Smith said a third of the nonprofit’s budget comes from the Texas Education Agency, a little more than $1 million a year.

The TEA said Texas lawmakers made changes to charter schools in the last session.

“We are stronger financially than we've ever been. Our only existing campus is academically acceptable, and we're doing amazing work with some of the hardest to serve young people in Austin,” said Smith.

American YouthWorks plans to appeal the TEA decision.

Each school is allowed to schedule a review with the TEA. If the decision to revoke the school's charter is upheld, it will be sent to a final hearing.

The TEA says a conservator will be appointed to each school to help them with the final process.