Yesterday, May 3, The Washington Post published an in-depth article about the ruckus in Washington County, AL about a proposed charter school planned for there.
Among the things mentioned was that the charter, known as Woodland Prep, identified their new principal on the school website. Here is what reporter Valerie Strauss wrote:
“The school’s website has a page introducing its principal, identifying her as “Amy O.” and doesn’t name the school where she is now working. But there is some question about this.
The woman pictured on Woodland Prep’s website is Amy Owens, also pictured on the website of Rocketship Spark Academy in San Jose, where it says she has been assistant principal and principal. A March 14, 2019, report by San Jose Inside said Spark was one of three schools in the Rocketship charter chain that the California Department of Education had cited for failing to ensure proper teacher credentialing.”
(The Washington County News in Chatom ran a front page story about Owens being hired as Woodland Prep principal.)
However, shortly after this article came out, Strauss updated her story as follows:
“Owens said in an email Friday night that she will not, in fact, be principal of Woodland Prep. Elise Hill, associate director of communications at Rocketship Public Schools, said in an email that Owens “has not accepted a position at Woodland Prep charter school in Alabama, nor at the time of publication had she formally announced her resignation to Rocketship.” She said Woodland Prep “may have jumped the gun and posted her photo and bio as principal.”
What happened? I have no clue. But there is good reason to believe that Owens probably became aware of all the controversy about Woodland Prep and got cold feet. After all, who wants to buy a ticket to sail on the Titanic?
It is also interesting that prior to yesterday, there was a web site used by Woodland Prep where anyone could check to see how many students they have enrolled for the upcoming school year. Most recent numbers showed far less than 100. The Woodland Prep application to the state charter school commission said they would begin with 260 students.
With every passing day, this venture looks more like “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” than something as important as educating children. I have no doubt that those involved with Woodland Prep are good and well-intentioned folks. But they appear to be way in over their heads, just as I would be if told to cut someone open and replace a heart valve.
Yet, the state charter school commission continues to look the other way and ignore the endless missteps and state school superintendent Eric Mackey hides behind the excuse that his hands are tied. And just who is tying them? Who is going to arrest him if he does what he should do, which is launch a full scale investigation of the whole mess? There are 2,650 students in the Washington County school system. Why won’t he do what is in their best interest?
Maybe this really isn’t “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” but Shakespeare’s “Comedy Of Errors.” If so, there is no shortage of actors to fill all the roles.