This is the second time the APBOE has denied the startup charter for students in Atlanta Public Schools.

In a 7-2 vote tonight at the regularly scheduled meeting, the Atlanta Board of Education denied the petition for Tapestry Public Charter School, Inc. (TPCSA). This is the second denial of a petition for this start-up charter when, in September 2023, the Atlanta BOE unanimously denied the first petition. In March 2024, a petition was resubmitted in hopes of an anticipated enrollment of 220 students in grades 6-12 opening for the 2025-26 school year.

According to interim superintendent Dr. Daniells S. Battle, if TPCSA had been approved, it would be Atlanta Public Schools’ 20th charter school, and APS currently has more charters than any other district in the state.

The petition review committee outlined areas of strength and growth of TPCSA’s petition to be a school in Atlanta. The committee cited the following as strengths: innovative school design, academic performance, fiscal sustainability, and evidence of community support and engagement.

TPCSA’s design is focused on co-taught classrooms with each core class taught by a general education and special education teacher with a focus on arts through partnerships. In addition, Tapestry’s existing Dekalb County Charter school has mixed data from CCRPI. From 2017-2019 the charter school only once scored over a 70.

However, in 2019, 2022, and 2023, Tapestry’s current Dekalb County Charter School outperformed the APS Readiness and Content Mastery score for all students while having three times the number of students with disabilities.

The Atlanta Board of Education members questioned the need for a new school at the current time. Both Ken Zeff and Katie Howard thanked the diligence of the team who reviewed the petition and acknowledged the work that Tapestry Public Charter School, Inc. is doing but had questions about the fiscal timing. Board member Alfred “Shivy” Brooks spoke about how the time was not optimal to open another school with talks of consolidating schools and bringing nutrition in-house while dealing with abolishing positions and the need for a living wage for bus drivers.

Despite the areas of strength, there were concerns around TPCSA’s capacity to address students’ needs, its impact on school enrollment in APS, staffing concerns, and its impact on district budgets. Currently, at its Dekalb location, TPCSA serves many students with autism, but Atlanta Public Schools had concerns about its ability to serve students with significant behavioral and cognitive disabilities.

In addition, there were concerns from the petition committee that adding another charter would negatively impact enrollment at district-run schools. Currently, APS school facilities are operating at less than 65% utilization based on declining student enrollment. With a shortage of staffing issues with special education teachers, APS was concerned with TPCSA’s ability to find enough qualified staff.

During public comment, several supporters of Tapestry Public Charter School came with red shirts, along with parents and community members who expressed the need for more support for students with disabilities. In addition, community members opposed a charter school opening in their community due to the lagging student enrollment in existing public schools and the current needs in traditional schools.

In a statement released after tonight’s board meeting, the Board of Education reiterated its focus on the needs of all students.

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