School board revokes I Can Do Anything charter

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) UPDATE: The Washoe School Board of Trustees has voted to revoke the charter for the I Can Do Anything high school, effective June 2019.

School board members say because of what the law states, pertaining to consistent academic underachievement, they had no choice but to terminate the charter.

Katy Simon Holland, school board president, says, "For us to really be forced into a decision, it was very dramatic for us, very difficult, because we know that we want those kids to succeed and we don't want them to fall through the cracks. Overall there were a tremendous number of issues where consistently they were not meeting the requirements and we had no choice. Had we had a choice we would have kept them going."

The charter school came under the scrutiny of the state education department. The state notified the school district that it needed to help ICDA get back on track.

In October, the state notified the trustees of three options--two of which required tens of thousands of dollars.

ICDA is on the final stretch of an October extension. This was the last school board meeting before the deadline. The final option was to shut the school down in June.

After hearing from a number of emotional students, teachers, and parents; board members voted to terminate the charter with a 5-2 vote.

About 180 students attend the Reno charter school. They have options to attend zoned schools or go to other charter schools in the area if they choose.

ORIGINAL STORY: In a charter school story KOLO 8 did back in 2001, Stephanie Tau, a junior at the “I Can Do Anything” charter school, told us about the attributes of Nevada’s first charter high school.

“It's like a regular high school. But it's smaller. You learn more, and if you want to go to college, you can get out even faster,” said Tau.

But even in its infancy the charter school struggled with performance. In 2001, it scored only half of what the average reading and math scores were in the district.

The principal at the time explained the lower scores this way.

“Taking students who haven't been the achievers. Who haven't been the success stories, and weren't part of the glowing statistics, in a more traditional school, we help them succeed,” said Principal Kitty Bergin.

Over the years, though, that hasn't come to pass--at least overwhelmingly.

In a letter sent to ICDA parents, the school said the Nevada Department of Education published a list of underperforming or comprehensive support and improvement schools in the state, and "I can do anything” charter high school was identified as a CSI School.

The liaison between the district and county charter schools had some of the same explanations the ICDA principal had in 2001.

“They are at-risk students who may not graduate high school. So they need that smaller family environment,” says Stacey Cooper, WCSD Charter School Oversight Coordinator.

While one reason for the low performance seems to remain the same, Cooper says the standards for charter schools in Washoe County and the state have changed dramatically since ICDA opened its doors.

“Their graduation percentages have gone up. But they aren't going up at the same level as other schools statewide, in response to the governor's new educational initiatives,” says Cooper.

December 11, 2018, the Washoe County School Board of Trustees must make a decision on the fate of the “I can do anything charter school.”

Those options include having the school locate a third party to manage the school, having the school join the Nevada Achievement School District, or revoking the ICDA charter all together.

We tried to get a comment from the ICDA High School, but no one was available to speak to us on camera.