KIPP Supporters Rally at Fresno Unified Board Meeting
By Ashley Ritchie and Winston Whitehurst
Chanting from the bottom floor echoed all the way upstairs as the Fresno Unified board meeting got underway to a crowd of pleading parents.
KIPP supporters showed up Wednesday to ask the district to provide a letter to the state saying the school is in good standing, hoping if it did that, KIPP could receive prop 55 funding, a $300 million bond issuance for California charter schools.
District officials say the state just informed them that Prop 55 funds are on hold indefinitely.
But even if they weren't, they wouldn't provide the letter.
"Guaranteeing this loan, given KIPPS precarious financial situation, would not be responsible action for Fresno Unified to take," Fresno Unified Superintendent, Michael Hanson, said at the meeting.
In addition to facing foreclosure, Hanson points out several allegations the school currently faces that, he says, supports the board decision.
"The significant ones include those around the failure to fingerprint employees, failure to report allegations of sexual abuse, issues around teacher credentialing, and testing irregularities," Hanson said.
But for KIPP's biggest supporters, losing their school is all they hear.
"The teachers are always here for me, they let me call them, come on Saturdays, after school and so much more," KIPP Student Meya Moss said.
"It's amazing when your daughter comes home and she's 11 and she says I want to go to Stanford. I want to be a teacher," KIPP Parent Sugar Watkins said.
District officials say if the school doesn't figure out a way to fix its budget issues, it will close in June or earlier.
But students and parents will echo their support until the last textbook closes.
If KIPP Academy closes, district officials say they'll work with the families of the nearly 300 students who go there to help them find placement in another school within Fresno Unified.
The KIPP Academy is a national college-prep public school with 66 campuses in 19 states.
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