Future of Charter School in Doubt After Sponsor Pulls Plug

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For many parents in the struggling Kansas City Missouri School District, charter schools have been seen as a good alternative for their children. But for the second time in as many weeks, a Kansas City Missouri charter school is shutting down, and now some parents are worried about their children's future.

The Urban Community Leadership Academy (UCLA) at 15th and Paseo lost its sponsor - the University of Central Missouri - effective at the end of the school year. According to Doug Thomas of UCM, the biggest reasons for the university's withdrawal from UCLA were poor academic performance and poor enrollment.

UCLA has around 230 students.

"As far as this school is concerned, it stops in June," said Thomas. "A key factor was retention students were coming to the school and not staying two, three or four years. It was less than that. They were keeping few students just two or more years which makes seeing the academic progress of the students difficult to measure."

Thomas says that the student's state exam scores were low or flat in most areas.

UCLA president Yvette Hayes declined to speak to FOX 4 on camera, but said that there have been some improvements since she took control of the school last year. She says that she and the school's governing board are committed to finding a new sponsor before the next school year.

Earlier this month, Renaissance Charter School announced that it would be shutting its doors due to poor performance.

However, Thomas says that the problems at the schools should not be considered a sign that charter schools can't work in Kansas City.

"Some have been very successful, some have scores above the state average. So it's possible to make a difference in academic performance, and it's expected," said Thomas.

UCM says that the Charter School Association will work with parents and students to help them transition to new schools, and help teachers look for employment.

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