Macon Charter Academy officials have their plates full this month as they begin to address deficiencies that have left the school on probation and facing possible closure.
The sanction -- recommended by the Bibb County school district and handed down by the state Department of Education last week -- required a written response outlining MCA’s plan of corrective action by Oct. 7.
MCA officials submitted an immediate “improvement response” to the Bibb school district Sept. 30, addressing areas of concern such as leadership, teaching, fiscal management and operations.
“MCA is grateful for the opportunity afforded by BCSD as well as Ga. DOE to correct the critical items listed,” Lonnicia Maxwell, chairwoman of the school’s board, wrote in an email to the state and school district last week. “MCA has made initial contact with (the Georgia Charter School Association) for assistance in both drafting our final response to Ga. DOE as well as solidifying a long term strategic plan.”
An additional plan was submitted to the state Wednesday afternoon, but state charter officials have yet to examine it.
“We have not reviewed the improvement plan they submitted to BCSD because the initial entry was inaccurate and we put it aside until that was correct,” Louis Ertse, an associate state superintendent responsible for charter schools, said in an email.
If the Department of Education doesn’t consider that plan sufficient, “the department and Bibb County school district will move to terminate the school’s charter contract,” according to MCA’s probation letter sent by the state.
Ertse said MCA’s action plan will help the state “determine whether the governing board is capable of making things work” and that there would be “additional visits or inspections of MCA before the Nov. 6 deadline.”
The school -- Macon’s second charter school -- was put on probation following a Telegraph report in which parents and employees complained about the school’s operations, from academics to school discipline, during a board meeting last month.
The report prompted an inspection by Bibb school district officials -- which included several of Superintendent Curtis Jones’ lieutenants -- as well as the recommendation to Atlanta that the school be placed on probation.
“From my perspective and the board’s perspective, we’re taking it very seriously,” said Ron Boykins, MCA’s principal, adding that some of the areas of concern the school district highlighted were already “in the works” toward a remedy.
“Our focus now is to get back to the critical component of our instructional program and help our children,” he said.
In recent days, MCA employees have said that a few teachers have quit and some employees were let go. Based on the school district’s enrollment count a week ago, MCA had lost almost 20 students.
The school is also without its International Baccalaureate program coordinator, Claudia Weathers, who told The Telegraph last week that she had left the school. In MCA’s start-up days, the IB program was a huge draw for many parents and students.
Attempts to contact Maxwell and co-founders Monya and Charles Rutland were not successful Wednesday.
Boykins said MCA will be holding a discipline committee meeting at the school Oct. 15 at 5:30 p.m. to help develop a refocused code of conduct.
“We’re working to get better,” he said.
To contact writer David Schick, call 744-4382 or find him on Twitter@davidcschick.