In an about-face from last month, a majority of State Board of Education members on Thursday said they had no confidence that the HOPE Online elementary school model can or will ever work, and ordered it closed.
“I do try and protect school choice whenever I can get to the conclusion that it’s a reasonable risk,” said Republican State Board member Steve Durham. But in HOPE’s case, he said, it’s “hard to get to that conclusion.”
The board vote was 5 to 2. It’s the first time under the current accountability system, in place since 2009, that the State Board has ordered a school closed against its wishes. Some districts have chosen on their own to close low-performing schools.
The order will require HOPE’s elementary centers to close at the end of the school year, according to a spokesperson for the state. The centers enroll about 846 elementary students, who would have to find other schools. About 89% of them qualify for subsidized lunches — a measure of poverty.
The organization’s middle and high schools, whose students attend the same centers, will continue to operate.
HOPE Online officials did not immediately comment on the state’s decision.