Schenectady County

Charter School appoints acting director

Shirley Reed has been officially appointed acting director of the International Charter School of Sc

Shirley Reed has been officially appointed acting director of the International Charter School of Schenectady, following the ouster of Sam Penceal last week.

The Board of Trustees on Monday also approved hiring a student discipline coordinator following an executive session lasting more than an hour Monday night.

Penceal and James Desira, the head of information technology, were let go last week. The board said Penceal was released from his contract after failing to meet expectations. The statement did not elaborate on the reason for Desira’s departure.

The school is seeking renewal of its charter with the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute.

The Charter Schools Institute is to conduct an informational meeting about the charter renewal process tonight at 6 at the school in the former Draper School building, according to Cynthia Proctor, director of public affairs for the Charter Schools Institute.

Charter Board President Tracy Petersen said after the meeting that the board believes the coordinator of student discipline position is necessary.

Discipline has been cited as a problem at the school and was mentioned in some preliminary comment by the Charter Schools Institute, according to prior comments by Penceal.

In those interviews, Penceal had admitted that there were disruptive students and problems with classroom management.

He attributed those issues to inexperienced teachers and said they were stepping up professional development.

Reed said Monday the school is going to work to improve classroom behavior by giving teachers more professional development and offering incentives to students to behave.

Her other top priorities are marketing and improving test scores. “We’re going to put out more information about the school, get more people in so we can increase enrollment for the next school year,” she said.

Enrollment stands at 584 currently — down from 720 last year.

She said the school plans to offer study groups, after-school programs and even Saturday school to help students with its standardized math test coming up in March.

Meanwhile, the reasons for Penceal’s termination remain unclear. The decision came at the Jan. 21 meeting following a 90-minute executive session. The minutes say that Penceal was not present but submitted a written report of his activities. In his report, Penceal updated the board on a series of initiatives to boost enrollment including sending re-enrollment brochures to families who have left the school and holding a series of open houses on Thursdays.

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