Ivy Prep charter network will close its high schools this month

Ivy Preparatory Academies has decided to close its high schools due to insufficient enrollment and ongoing financial challenges. The schools will close Oct. 30.

Read the AJC story here.

The high schools now enroll 90 students.Those teens must find new schools by the end of month; one option is returning to their local high schools.

“This is about providing the highest quality of education possible for our scholars,” said Alisha Thomas Morgan, the former state legislator who became head of Ivy Prep, the state’s Georgia’s first single-gender charter schools network, earlier this year.

“We don’t take the impact that our decision will have on scholars and their families lightly, but we must do what is in the best interest of our school and our students,” said Morgan. “My rule is, if I wouldn’t send my daughter there, then I’m not going to send your children or any of our Ivy children to a high school that cannot continue to serve their needs.”

Ivy Prep Academies serve more than 1,300 students at Ivy Preparatory Academy at Gwinnett, and at its two DeKalb campuses in the Kirkwood community, Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood for Girls and Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy.

The high school program — offered to students in both Gwinnett and DeKalb — relied on blended learning where students received instruction both online  and in the classroom.

Third grade boys walk in the hallway of Ivy Prep at Kirkwood. The charter school network is closing its high schools to concentrate on its elementary and middle school campuses. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Third grade boys walk in the hallway of Ivy Prep at Kirkwood. The charter school network is closing its high schools to concentrate on its elementary and middle school campuses. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

The Ivy Prep concept has found greater success with elementary and middle schools than high school. The high school did not draw large numbers of Ivy Prep middle school graduates and had become financially unfeasible, according to spokeswoman D. Aileen Dodd.

The Ivy Prep board voted to change the model and focus only on middle and elementary schools, said Dodd. “No one will be fired and the 90 students will be making transitions to other schools. We are helping them with that.”

There are only three students in the current senior class, said Dodd. Ivy Prep graduated only 10 high school students this past year.

Most graduates of Ivy Prep middle schools choose private high schools, public magnet high schools or their local schools, said Dodd, citing her own daughter who opted for a private high school where she could continue to play basketball.

As Ivy Prep discovered, charter high schools pay a price when they lack the critical mass to provide the activities teens like, sports teams, homecoming and a thriving social setting.

Most charter schools are k-8, although STEM charter high schools are increasing. Sustaining a charter high school remains a challenge, as was shown with Atlanta’s Tech High, which shut down in 2012.

Here is the letter sent to parents from Ivy Prep:

Dear Ivy Parents,
Ivy Preparatory Academy opened in 2008 committed to our mission of developing middle and high school students into thoroughly equipped scholars who are prepared to enter and succeed in the colleges and universities of their choice.
Because of our demonstrated record of high achievement in our elementary and middle school divisions, we have a very high standard for the quality of education we provide our scholars. If we are unable to meet this standard in spite of our very best efforts, we have to make some very difficult decisions in the best interest of our scholars and their families. After a thorough analysis of our academic program, funding structure, and student achievement, the Governing Board has made the very difficult decision to close our high school program effective Friday, October 30, 2015.
To further discuss this transition, Ivy Preparatory Academy will host parent meetings. The meetings will be held at each campus at the following days and times:
  • Gwinnett: Monday, October 5, 2015 – 6:00 p.m.
  • Kirkwood: Friday, October 2, 2015 – 5:30 p.m. OR Monday, October 5, 2015 – 8:00 a.m.
At the meetings, staff will answer questions regarding your scholar’s options and our plans to assist with the transition.
We recognize that this is difficult news, but we want to assure you that your school’s leadership understands the priceless value of a comprehensive, competitive high school education. Historically, we have discovered that many of our scholars who complete our middle school program develop the scholarly habits to excel in some of Georgia’s highly competitive public and private high schools, and we believe they deserve that experience. Our scholars are brilliant, talented, and creative individuals, and we know that a comprehensive high school program will only enhance their limitless possibilities.
Our team is devoted to giving our families our very best during this transition. Thus, Ivy Preparatory Academy will continue to offer high school tutorials, college coaching, SAT/ACT Prep, college tours, and more throughout the 2015-2016 school year.
We stand behind our commitment to our scholars and their families to support them and see them enter and succeed in the colleges and universities of their choice.
Sincerely,

Alisha T. Morgan
Executive Director
Ivy Preparatory Academies

 

 

Reader Comments 0

19 comments
Ashley Aguebor
Ashley Aguebor

This article makes it seem as though people were not choosing to continue to the high school. 2-3 years ago my child attended the middle school. She was an eighth grader and we expected to continue on to the high school like many of th students. Near the end of the year they sent home a letter stating that they were discontinuing the high school program. We met with the counsellors to discuss the transition. We put her in our local public school (a great school-we are glad we enrolled her). Later that summer we discover that they are accepting high school students? And now it seems that they did accept high schoolers after effectively kicking out their previous students? On top of that I don't understand how you can abandon the high school program when the concept behind the program is reading children for higher education.

E.U. Cator
E.U. Cator

It's time for an investigation into Ivy Prep on the where/how/when of the money it's given and how it's being spent. As a former proponent of the charter school amendment and of Ivy Prep itself, Ivy's thrown up too many red flags to ignore. It's sad how this once amazing school has fallen into this state of revolving administrators (look into how many principals, APs,..and while we're at it, teachers have come and gone over the last 2-3 years) and mismanagement. Ivy's a shell of what it was.


Why was this decision NOT made sooner? The high school program there was in trouble from the beginning and the higher-ups knew it. Years later and in the MIDDLE of the semester, it gets shut down. Why? How and why did they just now come to the conclusion that running a quality high school program is not cheap? And what's next? One of the campuses? Where are the original administrators that started this mess and why did they leave when they did? It's shady stuff like this that gives charters a bad name, and it's certainly soured me on the concept of charters, which is sad. If the adults weren't corrupt (at worst) or just plain short-sighted (at best), more kids could be reach and receive the stellar education they deserve through the charter model.

Ashley Aguebor
Ashley Aguebor

This article makes it seem as though people were not choosing to continue to the high school. 2-3 years ago my child attended the middle school. She was an eighth grader and we expected to continue on to the high school like many of th students. Near the end of the year they sent home a letter stating that they were discontinuing the high school program. We met with the counsellors to discuss the transition. We put her in our local public school (a great school-we are glad we enrolled her). Later that summer we discover that they are accepting high school students? And now it seems that they did accept high schoolers after effectively kicking out their previous students? On top of that I don't understand how you can abandon the high school program when the concept behind the program is reading children for higher education.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

It may be the right decision financially, but it's never the right decision to shut down the school mid-year.   Would have been FAR easier a transition if they made the decision early summer to give the families a smoother transition.   Quite unfortunate.

newsphile
newsphile

This is another example of how poorly the state charter commission is working.  Ivy closes high school, forcing their high school students to transfer to other schools in the middle of the semester.

There is no financial oversight of these charter schools that are commissioned by the state.  They get tax dollars, ensure they themselves are paid, and leave students in the lurch.  Why did someone in the state not see this one coming?  Oh, it's the Governor's pet project, that's why.  Cherokee Charter costs per pupil are much higher than the high-performing county school district this year.  There is example after example of the abuse of students and tax dollars by these state chartered schools. 

The GA charter school commission grants charters; charter management gets big checks and in-kind property and supplies; charter management pays self first; oops, no money is left to keep school open or to open more high school grades as promised and we must also close the media center. See for yourself; there's plenty of documentation for everyone to see.

When will GA get its head out of the sand and stop throwing good money after bad to these state charter schools?  I want my tax dollars back!

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

It takes many years to establish a successful K-12 school.  It is my understanding that IP went straight to a middle school charter, which to me suggest that someone didn't think this thing through.

Start with the elementary grades and when you have built a sufficient student base, THEN expand to middle grades.  After a few more years, THEN you might want to expand to high school.  In your first class of high school students, you want a majority of students who have been enrolled in your school for all/most of their education.

newsphile
newsphile

@Lee_CPA2 Why didn't the state charter commission see this coming?  There is absolutely no oversight of these state chartered schools.

bu2
bu2

Unacceptable to discontinue on October 30th.  That is a real disservice to their students.  They should not have started the school year or they should have finished it.  At the very least, they should have continued to the end of the semester.  By closing less than 2 months before the end of the semester, they have demonstrated they really don't care about their students.


If it was too much of a financial burden, that means they are financially unstable overall.


Gwinnett and DeKalb should consider this when their charter comes up.  I'd be hard pressed to justify continuing their charter.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@bu2 Disservice to the students, service to Eli Broad.  Same difference.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

On the one hand…

“We don’t take the impact that our decision will have on scholars and their families lightly, but we must do what is in the best interest of our school and our students,” said [Alisha Thomas] Morgan.

On the other hand…

"The high school did not draw large numbers of Ivy Prep middle school graduates and had become financially unfeasible[.]"

Eli Broad seems to have trained Morgan well as to what truly matters--viz., financial feasibility.  And that’s reason enough one must be wise and vigilant when hearing anything Morgan says and witnessing anything she does.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

This type of disruption to a child's education is another reason why the charter business is bad news. Especially when they purport to teach our neediest children. That is why we need to shore up and not tear down our public schools; they provide stability and continuity in a child's life and are truly a part of the community-when done right.

class80olddog
class80olddog

These charter highs functioned exactly as charters are supposed to - if enough people do not choose them, they close. 

Unlike traditional schools, where attendance is mandatory and most people have no choice about where to send their kids.

newsphile
newsphile

@class80olddog Unfortunately, tax payer funded properties have been a part of some of these charter deals.  Someone can open a state charter commissioned school, play school for a brief while, shut down, and laugh all the way to the bank with our tax dollars.  At least taxpayers still own county and city school district facilities.  I can't believe the lack of financial oversight from the state charter commission.  There are too many of these schools folding at horrific costs to taxpayers. It's one of the newest unethical, yet legal, forms of theft.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I only wish to highlight one sentence from this article.  Reality is much harder to achieve than dreams.  I have a dream that we will, one day, join together to make excellent our traditional public schools for ALL children in Georgia.


"As Ivy Prep discovered, charter high schools pay a price when they lack the critical mass to provide the activities teens like, sports teams, homecoming and a thriving social setting."

class80olddog
class80olddog

She only wants excellence for traditional schools - not private and certainly not charter.