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State Board Upholds DPS Denial of Charter Application

Contact: Alex Renteria, manager of media relations, at Alexandra_Renteria@dpsk12.org.

Colorado Board of Education Decision Follows DPS Board’s Unanimous Vote against SLAM Charter

Denver – On Wednesday, Nov. 8, members of the Colorado State Board of Education sided with Denver Public Schools in denying an appeal by charter school applicant Sports Leadership and Management or SLAM. SLAM’s application to serve K-12 students in Northeast Denver was previously denied by the Denver Board of Education.

The SLAM application did not meet the standards set by DPS, a charter authorizer, for opening and operating a high-quality school in Denver, the district board found in 2017. That denial prompted SLAM to appeal to the state board.

“SLAM purports to open a school in one of the hardest-to-serve areas of the city,” district legal counsel Molly Ferrer wrote in her legal brief to the state board, “yet the application fails to describe how SLAM intends to meet the needs of the very students it intends to serve.”

SLAM also applied to open a charter school in DPS in 2016 but withdrew after district staff raised concerns about deficiencies in its application. In 2017, the district found SLAM’s application was not in the best interests of students because it lacked coherence, clarity and quality in more than 30 areas, including serving English language learners and setting strong performance expectations.

In appealing to the state board, SLAM applicants argued the DPS process for authorizing schools was biased against them and overly rigorous. DPS had an opportunity “to help lift these students out of poverty by providing them with a first-class public education,” attorney Brad Miller argued for SLAM, adding, “However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the district is largely only approving charter schools that have an existing track record in or connection to the district.”

State Board of Education members sided with DPS, refusing to return the SLAM application to the district board for approval.

DPS, which is home to 60 charter schools, is one of the only authorizers in the country that applies quality authorizing standards to all schools, including district-run and charter schools. The district authorizing process has been lauded nationally, and is aligned with state law and standards established by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

According to DPS board policy: “Through our policies, practices and procedures as a quality authorizer, the district will provide high standards for all schools that lead to high levels of student achievement, high school graduation, college preparation, and college matriculation for all of Denver’s diverse students.”

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