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Ivy Prep charter network will close its high schools this month

Ivy Preparatory Academies has decided to close its high schools due to insufficient enrollment and ongoing financial challenges. The schools will close Oct. 30.

Read the AJC story here.

The high schools now enroll 90 students.Those teens must find new schools by the end of month; one option is returning to their local high schools.

"This is about providing the highest quality of education possible for our scholars,” said Alisha Thomas Morgan, the former state legislator who became head of Ivy Prep, the state's Georgia's first single-gender charter schools network, earlier this year.

“We don’t take the impact that our decision will have on scholars and their families lightly, but we must do what is in the best interest of our school and our students," said Morgan. "My rule is, if I wouldn't send my daughter there, then I’m not going to send your children or any of our Ivy children to a high school that cannot continue to serve their needs.”

Ivy Prep Academies serve more than 1,300 students at Ivy Preparatory Academy at Gwinnett, and at its two DeKalb campuses in the Kirkwood community, Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood for Girls and Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy.

The high school program -- offered to students in both Gwinnett and DeKalb -- relied on blended learning where students received instruction both online  and in the classroom.

The Ivy Prep concept has found greater success with elementary and middle schools than high school. The high school did not draw large numbers of Ivy Prep middle school graduates and had become financially unfeasible, according to spokeswoman D. Aileen Dodd.

The Ivy Prep board voted to change the model and focus only on middle and elementary schools, said Dodd. "No one will be fired and the 90 students will be making transitions to other schools. We are helping them with that."

There are only three students in the current senior class, said Dodd. Ivy Prep graduated only 10 high school students this past year.

Most graduates of Ivy Prep middle schools choose private high schools, public magnet high schools or their local schools, said Dodd, citing her own daughter who opted for a private high school where she could continue to play basketball.

As Ivy Prep discovered, charter high schools pay a price when they lack the critical mass to provide the activities teens like, sports teams, homecoming and a thriving social setting.

Most charter schools are k-8, although STEM charter high schools are increasing. Sustaining a charter high school remains a challenge, as was shown with Atlanta's Tech High, which shut down in 2012.

Here is the letter sent to parents from Ivy Prep:

  • Gwinnett: Monday, October 5, 2015 – 6:00 p.m.
  • Kirkwood: Friday, October 2, 2015 – 5:30 p.m. OR Monday, October 5, 2015 – 8:00 a.m.

Alisha T. Morgan

Executive Director

Ivy Preparatory Academies



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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.