DESE accepts accepts surrender of Chicopee’s Paulo Freire Social Justice School
CHICOPEE, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Last week, the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School Board of Trustees voted to surrender its charter effective June 30th. On Tuesday, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to accept the surrender.
Paulo Freire Justice Charter School opened its Chicopee location 6 years ago after relocating from Holyoke. However, come the end of the school year in June, the high school will shut its doors for good, leaving 215 students without a school to attend.
“I feel like this is unfair,” one student said. “I love coming to this school. I love the curriculum that my teachers teach. They make me want to come back and they make me want to learn more than what I already know.”
Students and staff spoke during public comment at a board of trustees meeting last week, expressing concerns about the school’s choice to surrender their charter.
“Multiple staff members have come to me very concerned how the end of the school year will look like when it comes to transitioning staff, specifically in regards to insurance benefits and last paychecks,” one science teacher said.
“What is the overall plan to close the school?” another teacher asked. “How will students and staff, both teaching and non-teaching, be supported in this transition? What are the concrete steps that will be taken?”
On Tuesday, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) voted to accept the surrender of the charter granted to Paulo Freier.
“The school is committed to continuing operations through the end of 2022/23 school year,” DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said. “I recommend that the board vote to accept the surrender of the charter granted to Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School.”
According to the charter school, they were unable to attract enrollment and have faced many other challenges. In a statement shared with Western Mass News, the school said, “the low enrollment rate has impacted the school’s financial condition and no longer supports the school’s academic and social justice mission.”
According to DESE, plans are in the works with school systems in Chicopee, Holyoke, and Springfield, where a majority of the charter school’s students live. They will help provide information to families to help them transition their children to new schools for the next school year.
Meanwhile, the board of trustees president, Phylis Gedeon, took time to respond to the community’s concerns about the closure...
“The end result is to really have a smooth transition,” she said. “As to how we get there, that’s been the debate and it has been very tough.”
The charter school also announced that they will host a series of public meetings with students, families, and teachers to share further information. Dates and times of meeting will be posted to the schools website.
We also reached out to the board of trustees for further comment, but have not yet heard back.
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