Thursday, April 2, 2015

Parent Horror Story from BASIS: Charter school chain “bullying” Black parents? | Cloaking Inequity

Parent Horror Story from BASIS: Charter school chain “bullying” Black parents? | Cloaking Inequity:

Parent Horror Story from BASIS: Charter school chain “bullying” Black parents?

BASIS Washington DC
Everywhere you look there are wonderful stories and elegant arguments about why charters are GREAT for kids… especially poor Latina/os and Blacks. Today Cloaking Inequity has an exclusive— another horror story from a charter parent. I first discussed the BASIS charter schools, a quasi for-profit charter chain (see What BASIS?: Nepotism and aggrandizement in charters?), in the post Parent Horror Stories from BASIS: Corporate Charter Hurting Children? It is still one of the five most popular posts ever on Cloaking Inequity.  Here at Cloaking Inequity we can deliver the counter-narrative.  Without further ado, here is an open letter from a concerned parent.
Public Charter School Board
3333 14th Street, NW, Suite 210
Washington, DC 20010
Hello Ms. [BASIS administrator],
The purpose of this email is to establish a formal complaint against the Public Charter School Basis-DC. My son, [student name], is 12 and in the 6th grade. He is a Sixth grader that has been retained. The entire school year, I went to [BASIS administrator], whose email identifies her as being the Director of Exceptional Education & Student Advocacy for assistance with XXXX’s studies and behavior issues which included i.e. a heighten sense of frustration in not understanding the material, obsessive talking, a delay in response, appearing not to listen when spoken to and not focused on immediate tasks. I consulted the Basis Student Handbook. And I focused on the section and paragraph, where it outlined that student services are available for a child that is experiencing education problems. I then picked up the phone and called Basis-DC and was given [BASIS administrator]’s, name and contact information by the women in the Basis-DC front office.
After several voicemails and missed calls between us, [BASIS administrator] and I finally spoke early November. I then expressed to [BASIS administrator], about my son’s frustrating disposition to learning Physics, Math and Chemistry at BASIS. Several days passed and on December 6, I received an email where [BASIS administrator] acknowledged my call and stated that “[BASIS administrator], the 6th grade Learning Specialist, is working on his plan.  I will keep you posted and we will send as soon as it is completed.” On December 16th, I got an email message from [BASIS administrator], that [student]’s SST plan crafted from her office was still being worked on and it would be implemented immediately after the Holiday’s.
After the plan was put into action, I immediately started questioning the process with [BASIS administrator]. I then requested for my son to be retested for perhaps a learning disability which could be the reasoning behind his learning difficulty. Meanwhile, [students]’s grades continued to decline. The Office of Exceptional Education & Student Advocacy, then placed him into the Basis Saturday Academy, which was designed to go beyond the regular tutorial services. Sadly, this Saturday Academy failed to cover any of the important core classes in which [student] was having difficulty i.e. Chemistry, Math or Physics.
Upon my further questioning about the education services, another meeting was set up by the Office of Exceptional Education & Student Advocacy to discuss the current non-working SST plan. This time,[ BASIS administrator], promised to monitor [student] “behavior” and submission of homework to see if that would make a difference. She continued to update me on the status of {students]’s assignments. This action and the reading class were the only items in his SST that continued until the end of the school year. No other items were addressed i.e. Math, Chemistry, or Physics deficiencies.
I then was informed that [student] did not earn promotional status and was retained. He had passed certain classes, but did not pass the Basis’ Comprehensive exams for those courses mentioned above. I was told, he had until the summer to finish and complete four sets of informational packets per subject that ranged from two–three hundred pages each, with no assistance from the school. In addition, at the conclusion of packet completion, he would have to take a series of two exams per subject and pass in order to be promoted. This meant he took a double Math exam, double Biology exam, a double History exam, a double Physics exam, a double Chemistry exam and a double Latin exam. Again, these exams included the D.C. portion which consisted of 30 – 60 questions and an Arizona portion which carries additional 50-70 questions. These exams are combined to produce one series of test. The Arizona portion of the test is specifically created and corrected from the curriculum from the Arizona Basis School’s. At the conclusion of the test it is then sent to be corrected by the Arizona Basis Schools and then sent back to Basis-DC for disclosure of scores.
Several times, I questioned the Basis-DC Administration about the retake process. Each time, I was told that, at no time will staff be available during the summer to assist or help with the four sets of 2-3 hundred page packets. Even though, the Basis Student Handbook clearly outlines mechanisms that would be in place to assist for the school’s “uniquely rigorous curriculum”. My repeated requests were denied. I then contacted another highly regarded After School program to assist us with finishing the packets. They enrolled him into their High Achievement Summer School Academy which consisted of over 250 hours plus hours of instructional classes on Spanish, Math, Science, English and History from 8am until 4pm, Monday –Friday. Even upon the completion, we were still told, “it wasn’t enough to 
Parent Horror Story from BASIS: Charter school chain “bullying” Black parents? | Cloaking Inequity: