Just months after it opened, First Place Scholars, the first charter school in Washington state, is in turmoil.
Its first principal resigned in November, more than half of its original board of directors have left, too, and the state’s charter-school commission has identified more than a dozen potential problems that need to be fixed soon if the school wants to keep its doors open.
[…] First Place was the first charter to open in part because it wasn’t starting from scratch. It had long been a private elementary school, founded to serve homeless students, in partnership with Seattle Public Schools.
To be clear, First Place Scholars had been successfully serving homeless students for years as a privately funded not-for-profit. As a charter school it got to replace its private charitable funding with state and local tax dollars, allowing it to more than double its capacity to up to 100 students. But the transition has not gone smoothly.
I sincerely doubt the state’s charter school commission—packed with charter school advocates—would allow First Place to close. They have too much at stake here. But First Place’s journey from successful private school to flailing charter certainly belies the notion that charter schools are somehow magically efficient.