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This Austin Charter School Slated for Closure May Get a Second Chance

Jon Shapley for KUT News

An Austin charter school slated for closure by the state may be getting a second chance.

The Texas Education Agency had ordered American Youthworks to close by next month. But the school went to court and argued everything was a misunderstanding.

On Friday, a judge agreed to hear the school's case – possibly extending the school's life for at least one more semester.

The TEA moved to close the charter school after it failed to comply with state academic and financial guidelines. The school argues it has fixed the problems and should be allowed to keep operating.

When American Youthworks CEO Parc Smith learned the court agreed to hear his case this November, he became really hopeful. But, Smith says, that same day the TEA made a new move. “That afternoon they filed an appeal. And from there, it seems to get very complicated. I’m not exactly sure at this moment what all the very next steps are. We’re working with TEA and our attorneys to figure out what all the next steps are.”

Even TEA is unsure about the next steps. The agency declined to do an interview with KUT after consulting with the Attorney General’s office. 

At the moment, American Youthworks faces closure because of Senate Bill 2 or SB2, a new law crafted this past legislative session that gave TEA teeth to revoke the licenses of underperforming charters. The charter school is pretty unique; it caters to teenage parents and high school drop-outs.

Parc Smith hopes Travis County Judge Orlinda Naranjo will consider his argument that SB2 was crafted for conventional charters – something his school is not.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
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