Parents look for new options after KC charter school closes less than a month before classes starts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City charter school is closing its doors for good, leaving more than 300 students less than one month to enroll at a new school.

Rashon Steward said her daughters have been attending Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology since preschool.

“[The school administration] focuses on the children and their education. They made sure families, physically, mentally, spiritually, financially everything was well taken care of because

Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy in KCMO.

all that plays a part for that child and their education,” Steward said.

She said in May the school warned parents of a possible closure next year. Recently, this family and hundreds of others found out it’s now a reality.

“They gave us a letter that there was something in debate, that the school possibly might not be open anymore, and we lost our sponsorship with CSMU,” Steward said.

The University of Central Missouri Office of Charter Schools tells FOX4 it decided not to renew a contract with BBCAT because of consistently low academic performance. In 2017 the schools percentage of students at or above grade level in English was 22 percent. Its percentage of students at or above grade level in math was 12 percent. 

“It was kind of devastating. I literally broke into tears when they told me,” Steward said.

Now many parents are frantically scrambling to find education options before the new school year starts in August.

“[They’re] cutting it pretty close, and that’s the challenging part about it," said Diane Charity, school navigator for Show Me KC Schools.

Charity said the goal of nonprofit Show Me KC Schools is to help parents and children find the school that's the best fit for their needs.

“We actually walk that parent with one-on-one support to get them to the right school weather it be public, private, charter,” Charity said.

They’ve been reaching out to help families whose kids were enrolled at the now-closed school.

“Sometimes they don’t even know they have a neighborhood school they can go to. Sometimes the neighborhood school is not closer, and sometimes it’s just as equal in academics,” Charity said.

She said one challenge with placement is that some schools are already full.

“In several instances the schools are already full, but much to our pleasant surprise we found some that really weren’t,” Charity said.

She said the organization and others are working to make sure every kid will be placed by the start of the upcoming school year.

“School is getting ready to start, and it’s time to get our kids where they need to be,” Charity said.

If you or someone you know was impacted by BBCAT closing, you can call the Missouri Charter School Association's toll-free Charter School Enrollment Hotline at 844-458-7573 or Show Me KC Schools at 816-656-6335.

To request student records from BBCAT, parties should contact the school directly at 816-926-9110 or via email by clicking on one of the names below.

]For additional information, please contact Victoria Hughes, charter school liaison at UCM, at 660-543-4723.