All-boys school rejected again in Wilkinsburg
The Wilkinsburg School Board Tuesday night rejected for a fourth time a plan to bring an all-boys charter school to town.
With little discussion, board members voted 7-0 to deny a request to grant a charter for the proposed HOPE Leadership Academy for Math and Science. Donora Craighead and LaTonya Washington abstained.
“I’m not opposed to charter schools, just this one,” Washington said.
Andre Tucker, CEO of the proposed charter school, said he would appeal to the state Department of Education. The Education Department has approved the HOPE academy to receive $650,000 over three years. Academy officials received $50,000; the rest of the money would come after a charter is granted.
Tucker hoped to draw students from Wilkinsburg, Pittsburgh, Woodland Hills and Penn Hills to study at the school, which he planned to open in a vacant church near South Avenue and Center Street. He planned to start teaching classes for boys in grades six through eight, and add a higher grade each year until 12th grade.
Despite support from more than 3,500 people who signed a petition in support of the charter school, the board rejected Tucker’s bids in January 2009, September 2009 and in February, citing gender discrimination.
Charter supporters thought the concept would have more momentum this time in Wilkinsburg because four of the five schools in the predominantly black district failed to meet state standards in reading and math on last year’s Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests.
Craighead said the HOPE academy would have to be retooled to gain her full support, but was hesitant to dismiss charters altogether.
“I don’t want to pass up an opportunity for something that helps our students,” Washington said. “At this point, we need all the help we can get.”