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New York

UFT Charter School makes its case as renewal decision nears

Students from the the UFT Charter School spoke in support of the school's charter renewal Thursday night. The reviewers who will help decide the UFT Charter School's fate have seen the data, observed classroom instruction and studied its operations. On Thursday night, they heard from students, teachers and parents. “It hasn’t always been easy,” said Brian C. Saunders, speaking about his autistic eighth grade son, who has been at the school since first grade. “Sometimes it’s been difficult, but along every step of the way he’s grown. He’s matured.” Saunder's son has a longer tenure than most of the adults in his school, which has undergone four leadership changes since 2009 and a turnover of 30 teachers in 2011. During and after those years of disarray, the school faltered, test scores plummeted, and was found to be in violation of federal law for providing inadequate services to students learning English, according to a report released earlier this year. School officials say that there is strong evidence that the school was improving and on Thursday Saunders and two dozen others spoke about those changes. "Numbers don't always tell the story," said board chair Evelyn DeJesus. It might not make much of a difference. In New York State, charter schools must get permission from their authorizing body when its charter expires, a term that lasts five years or less. The board of trustees of the State University of New York, which originally authorized the school to open in 2005, will make its decision early next year. Renewal decisions are "heavily based on academic results," according to the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, which makes recommendations to the board.