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Arlington charter school will close after losing accreditation

The Jean Massieu Academy in Arlington will close this summer after having its accreditation as a school district revoked, the Texas Education Agency announced Wednesday.

The charter-school campus, which serves primarily deaf children and their families, was one of only four charter schools or districts in the state to have their accreditation status revoked because of substandard academic or financial ratings. The TEA has been accrediting school districts for three years and charter schools for two.

This year, 1,198 out of 1,232 districts or charters schools were accredited. Fourteen schools had their accreditations left pending because of ongoing investigations.

Two districts and three charter schools received accredited-probation status, including the Metro Academy of Math and Science in Arlington, which received the rating because of poor academic and financial accountability.

Though it is set for closure, Jean Massieu officials can ask for a hearing at the TEA where they'd ask for a reconsideration, said agency spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson.

The campus has had a monitor and then a conservator in place over the past two-and-a-half years. If State Education Commissioner Robert Scott changed his mind about revoking their accreditation, he could decide to appoint a board of managers to take over for the school's board of directors, Culbertson said.

If the revocation stands, the TEA will come in to Jean Massieu after the school year ends and secure student records for families. Then, they'll settle up accounts, paying anything that is owed back to the state or to parents, Culbertson said. Students would return to their home district or another charter school in the fall.

Culbertson said the decision to revoke accreditation isn't one that Scott treats lightly. Several measures are taken, such as the conservatorship, to avoid it. Conservators act as the commissioner's representative and can overrule school officials on some decisions.

Unfortunately, Culbertson said, some districts and charter schools can not regain their footing even with the state's help. In those situations, "it's better just to give these kids a better chance, to get them out of a situation that's almost hopeless," she said.

TRACI SHURLEY, 817-390-7641

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