Memphis-Shelby County School Board OKs two charter school applications, denies seven

Nine charter applicants this year included four new schools, plus five schools in the Achievement School District. The MSCS school board approved two of them, despite the district’s recommendations.

A logo bears the words “Memphis Shelby County Schools”
The Memphis-Shelby County School Board approved two charter school applications, but denied seven. Four of those denied applications were charters in the state-run Achievement School District. (Ariel Cobbert for Chalkbeat)

The Memphis-Shelby County Schools board on Tuesday approved applications for two charter schools to join the district in 2024-25, while denying seven others.

Journey Coleman, an Achievement School District charter school, will  become a charter school under MSCS. Tennessee Career Academy, a new charter school, will also open in the district. Both schools will join the MSCS district in 2024-25.

Other charter applicants were denied, but will have a chance to appeal.

Denying the four other ASD charter school applications leaves the students and staff at the schools in limbo. 

Another web of decisions will determine what happens next. Without approval to operate under the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission, the fate of the schools is left to MSCS. If the district doesn’t decide to make them traditional schools, the four charter schools will close when their charters expire after the 2023-24 school year.

MSCS officials Tuesday suggested plans for some of the schools to return as traditional schools, but none of those plans are final.

So far, neither the district nor the board has articulated a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the fallout of the ASD’s collapse.

Here are the MSCS board’s votes. Five are existing schools in the Achievement School District: 

  • Cornerstone Prep Lester Campus School, sponsored by Capstone Education Group: Denied
  • Fairley High School, sponsored by Green Dot Public Schools TN: Denied
  • Humes Middle School, sponsored by Frayser Community Schools: Denied
  • Journey Coleman, sponsored by Journey Community Schools: Approved
  • MLK College Prep High School, sponsored by Frayser Community Schools: Denied

The other four are proposed new charter schools: 

  • Change Academy, sponsored by Trust God and Never Doubt Outreach: Denied
  • Empower Memphis Career & College Prep, sponsored by Empower Career and College Prep: Denied
  • Pathways In Education-Memphis, sponsored by Pathways Management Group: Denied
  • Tennessee Career Academy, sponsored by TN Career Academy Inc.: Approved

 Approvals for the two successful applicants take effect July 25, 2023.

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Laura Testino covers Memphis-Shelby County Schools for Chalkbeat Tennessee. Reach Laura at LTestino@chalkbeat.org.

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