Sojourner Truth Academy decides to close at school year’s end

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Sojourner Truth Academy, a service-based charter high school, will close at the end of this school year based on a vote by its governing board Tuesday evening that reflects the reality of the program’s insufficient performance gains, reports Andrew Vanacore of The Times-Picayune.

The school has faced a series of significant challenges since before school even started this year. Its founder, Channa Mae Cook, left last year, and one of new superintendent’s Reginald Flenory’s first tasks was keeping the program in its building on Freret Street after the 11th-hour discovery that Orleans Parish School Board had decided not to continue its lease for the Our Lady of Lourdes building with the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Audubon Charter School was offered the building, but that school’s board turned the campus down for logistical reasons.

With a one-year extension negotiated by the Recovery School District, the building was settled, and the school board and staff turned their attention back to the school’s flagging performance scores, which fell from 53.5 in 2010 to 48.7 in 2011, well below the score of 75 below which the state will deem a school “failing” next year. School officials acknowledged in August that without dramatic increases, the school would be unlikely to get another year.

The handwriting may have appeared on the wall at the beginning of November, when the RSD announced that it would be converting five low-performing direct-run high schools to charters in the coming year. Although the announcement did not directly apply to Sojourner Truth — the school would have undergone the charter review process in the spring — it left Sojourner Truth in a harsh spotlight as the lowest-performing school in the city not slated for a major transition.

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