Schenectady charter school proposal withdrawn; Would-be founder says he hopes to resubmit

Would-be school founder Re'Shawn Rogers in February. 

Would-be school founder Re'Shawn Rogers in February. 

A Schenectady-based charter school proposal was withdrawn the day following a public forum where community members resisted the proposal, but the school’s would-be founder on Thursday suggested he plans to resubmit a proposal this summer.

Re’Shawn Rogers, a former Brooklyn charter school educator who in February filed a charter application with the SUNY Charter Schools Institute to establish an elementary charter school in Schenectady, on Thursday said he and others involved in the proposed school remain committed to establishing a new school in Schenectady. The proposed K-5 Destine Preparatory Academy would focus on students in some of the city’s highest-poverty areas.

“We are deeply grateful for the thorough and detailed review process conducted by SUNY, and we will use all feedback to continue to strengthen our work and our proposed school model,” Rogers said by email Thursday, suggesting the SUNY charter officials had provided feedback and asked him to resubmit a plan in the summer.

A spokesperson for the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, which reviews charter school applications on behalf of the SUNY Board of Trustees, said the proposal was withdrawn March 25. Schenectady City School District officials were also formally notified this week the proposal had been withdrawn.

While it’s not clear what caused the sudden withdrawal or what specific areas of the proposal will be revisited, Rogers said the proposed school’s board “is still in tact” and that its members will work with the SUNY charter institute in the coming months to make a proposal during the next cycle of applications.

“We remain committed to the work of providing a high quality, alternative option, K-5 school for the community of Schenectady and look forward to learning from the current cycle of charter review and engaging fully and strong in the upcoming charter review cycle in July,” Rogers said.

Raysheea Turner, a Schenectady attorney listed as the proposed school’s board chair, did not respond to a message earlier this week seeking to discuss the school.

Mike Lesczinski, the SUNY Charter School Institute spokesperson, said the institute notifed Rogers they would not be moving forward with the proposal due to problems demonstrating community support for the proposed school.

“We had a few applicants, and this was one of them, that faced challenges during the pandemic in addressing the requirements for demonstrating community support and those applicants will have a chance to, in a post pandemic world, provide more information should they choose to apply in a future round,” Lesczinski said in a statement Thursday.

The night before the charter proposal was withdrawn, Rogers and some of the proposed board members faced community push back during a public forum hosted by the Schenectady school district, a required step in the application review process. Community members, including Schenectady teachers, said the focus should be on improving the city’s existing district schools. Rogers and the proposed board members who joined the virtual forum argued the school would give parents another academic choice in a city where the schools have long struggled with student outcomes.

“It’s hard for me to say instead of fixing where we are that serves a huge population, we instead move over to this new thing that is for a small number of people,” Schenectady High School graduate and teacher Oriana Miles said during the public forum. “Because I want all of my community to be served and that in my mind is a public school system that needs to be fixed.”

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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