Charter school rejected
The Prince William County School Board deferred the opportunity to open the county’s first charter school Wednesday when it voted to deny the current application for The Prince William Linguistics Academy.
Instead, the board voted to allow Samia Harris to submit a new application to charter the alternative public school specializing in Spanish, French, Arabic and English as a second language.
Superintendent Edward L. Kelly, recommended that the board deny the application outright, based on “legal barriers,” “deficiencies” and the lack of a “detailed narrative that adequately describes and answers each of the categories in the Charter School Application for Prince William County Public Schools.”
Board member Steven Keen proposed, and the board passed an amendment to continue the process and “… negotiate further with the applicant over the proposed charter for an opening date no sooner than Sept. 2004.”
Keen said the difficulty with Harris’ application lay in the fact that the county had no firm procedure, conflicting requirements and process fraught with ambiguity.
“The application process has been real learning experience for all of us,” the Woodbridge District board member said.
In their denial of the application, in its current form, most of the board members acknowledged that the application process was cumbersome at best.
“Some of our wording is unclear,” Keen said after citing at least three conflicting regulations.
There are eight other charter schools in the state, Keen said, and each of those was formed from an existing public school.
“This is the first application in the state that has come forward from an external applicant. I believe that this application is a fundamentally sound educational option for our county, however I am also convinced that the work yet to be done on the application requires more than we have for an opening in 2003.”
With the exception of Dumfries District board member Joan Ferlazzo, the members said they wanted to approve Harris’ application, but needed a more complete proposal.
Harris, an immigrant to the United States from Canada and Egypt, was disappointed in the results but said she hopes to eventually see her charter school open.
“It is challenging to get both sides together and that is what has happened,” she said.
The proposed budget for the school is about $3.5 million.
Staff writer Keith Walker can be reached at (703) 878-8063.