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4 DC Charter Schools to close at end of school year

Advocates say the closures left families scrambling to find new schools.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Dismissal at Cesar Chavez Prep middle school is taking on a whole new meaning. 

The Columbia Heights campus and the Capitol Hill high school will both close at the end of the school year. The high school will now merge with the Cesar Chavez network's other high school (Parkside) in Ward 7. 

“I think both teachers and families are left scrambling,” said Scott Goldstein with Empower Ed. The education advocate said many teachers and families told him they were blindsided by the recent news. But Cesar Chavez is just the latest in a string of closures by Charters. Democracy Prep, City Arts and Prep, and National Collegiate Prep will all close in 2020. 

Empower Ed is now circulating this petition calling on the city council to make charter schools more transparent, so families aren't left in the cold.

“If charter schools were subject to the open meetings act all the invested parties, whether they be parents, student, teachers could be part of the process and could see this coming,” said Goldstein. 

A spokesperson for Cesar Chavez admitted the closures are a disruption but necessary to keep the school afloat. They've communicated to parents and teachers throughout the two year "school improvement" process. It all came down to the dollars. 

A spokesperson said both schools slated to close are only half full and both buildings are leased so it made financial sense to consolidate to a building the school owns in Ward 7.

“I see this as being proactive as seeing the future and wanting to maintain the future of Chavez,” said parent Lonell Johnson, “so I completely accept the fact they’re thinking in that term and maybe the other parents do not, but I understand. If the money is not available to run the school money is not available to run the school.” 

Staff at Cesar Chavez is working with families to find the right school community for their children.

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