A San Antonio teacher’s union alleges San Antonio Independent School District officials violated the state’s open meetings law when they signed off on a charter school in a January meeting.
The San Antonio Alliance, part of the statewide Texas State Teachers Association, claimed in a written complaint that the district failed to discuss the legal elements of the operation of the charter school in open session and then directed Superintendent, Pedro Martinez, to negotiate with the charter school without posting the action on a board meeting agenda.
A story from Texas Public Radio points out that the application from Democracy Prep to run a charter at a local elementary school was on the Jan. 22 agenda, “but directing Martinez to negotiate a contract was not.”
The union also contends the district failed to obtain a requisite petition from district parents to allow the elementary to operate as a charter.
“We believe that the superintendent knew for months that he wanted to bring in this charter company to run Stewart Elementary next year,” Alliance President Shelley Potter told Texas Public Radio. “It appears to us that he was in such a hurry that he not only ignored the community, parents and employees, but also the law.”
The district says it followed protocol regarding the meetings act and used a provision of the Texas Education Code that does not require local approval for a charter school.
The charter was approved in January, when the school board settled on New York-based Democracy Prep to help turn around the failing elementary school. The move allowed the district to avoid state oversight or closure of the school, one of six in the district with repeated poor state evaluations.
It also drew protests from the teacher’s union, which claimed Democracy Prep, a national operation, has no ties to Texas.
Democracy Prep also made no promises that it would hire back any teachers, threatening the union’s hold on the district.
See Democracy Prep’s most recent audit here.
The saga of the chronically failing Stewart Elementary was documented in 2016 by local news group The Rivard Report. See the stories here.
Steve Miller can be reached [email protected]