State Commission to Hear Birmingham Charter School Appeal

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The Alabama Public Charter School Commission is scheduled to vote Monday on a proposed charter school in Woodlawn, called  i3 Academy. The Birmingham school board recently rejected i3 Academy’s bid to open in the city, and organizers appealed to the state.

Birmingham’s rejection of the i3 Academy application set the stage for a full review by the state charter school commission. An independent team reviewed the application on behalf of the state, according to Logan Searcy, the state Department of Education’s liaison with the charter School Commission. On Monday, the commission will hear a report from the reviewers and i3 Academy will have an opportunity to make the case for why it should be allowed to open in Birmingham, she said.

The Birmingham school board can authorize charter schools to operate in the district. But it rejected the i3 Academy application because the board said organizers left out key information, like how they’re going to transport students and how they’ll teach children with disabilities.

Tommy Bice, the former state education superintendent, is one of the leaders of the i3 effort. The proposed charter school will provide transportation, but the plan will be developed after officials know where the students are located, he said. Enrollment at the school will be open to Birmingham students in grades K-5.

Special education services will be based on the individual needs of each child, Bice said.

Charter schools are public schools that receive public funds, but state law gives them flexibility to operate with a separate board. The schools have to have clear plans and goals for student achievement.