- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Fewer than a dozen D.C. parents took their children out of three public charter schools and enrolled them in the city public school system this weekend after learning that the schools may lose their charters.

City school officials said they held an open registration on Saturday and yesterday at Logan Center in Northeast to make it easier for parents to re-enroll their children in neighborhood schools.

An estimated 450 students attend the three schools that have come under fire. The schools are New Vistas Prep Charter School, World Public Charter School and Milburn Alternative High School.

About 10 parents showed up to re-enroll their children in public schools, said Ralph Neal, assistant superintendent for student and school support services for the city public school system.

"We took a proactive approach to make sure that parents have a comfortable way of registering their children back into the public school system," Mr. Neal said. "And we'll be ready for them if they come to us this week or next."

Meanwhile, city school officials will hold hearings tomorrow to decide whether to revoke the schools' charters. The city School Board oversees 17 of the District's charter schools.

City school officials said the schools' curriculum is not up to par, and in some cases the facilities do not have enough books and desks for the students. School officials also are investigating accusations of unclear discipline policies, poor or nonexisting special education programs and, in some cases, child neglect.

Officials at the three public charter schools said last month that they will defend themselves against the charges. The legal battle may not end until later this month because all three schools are entitled to hear and rebut any charges that jeopardize the charters granted them by the city.

The school board last month voted to revoke the charters after learning of mismanagement accusations through a report prepared by a group that monitored the city's 33 charter schools.

Under the District's charter school law, however, the schools have 15 days to request a response hearing. The board then has 30 days to conduct hearings and take a final vote.

Mr. Neal said yesterday he is not worried about the low turnout at the registration site over the weekend. He said his office began notifying parents last week of the need to register their children in public schools.

"We wrote letters, sent e-mails and even called parents to let them know how to register their children," Mr. Neal said. "We did everything except go out and knock on people's doors."

Mr. Neal said parents also were given the option of registering their children directly with the neighborhood schools, but he could not say whether any parents had done that.


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