Pathways in Education (PIE) – a California-based education organization – has withdrawn its request to open a charter school in the District, a D.C. Public Charter School Board leader said on Dec. 14. Earlier this year, the organization proposed a school to serve high-school dropouts and other at-risk students in Wards 7 and 8.
The withdrawal comes after the AFRO reported PIE has a history of wrongly pocketing millions of taxpayer dollars by serving high school dropouts and other at-risk students with short school days and home-based, “self-paced” computer learning.
Don Soifer, vice chair of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, said the organization gave no reason for the withdrawal of its application to open up a charter school in the district. “Some of my colleagues and many members of the team had an opportunity to visit the schools,” Soifer said. “I think the work they do is important work and work with a mission that – when done well – could serve this city well.”
He said irrespective of PIE’s decision to withdraw its charter application, that “maybe in the future” the company or another organization would submit an application to do “similar work that has value and need.”
“I hope this is not the end of the discussion,” Soifer said.
The nonprofit organization had wanted to set up five schools in the district and serve 1,500 students. “Too many at-risk students in Washington D.C. are underserved or failing to graduate and are therefore deprived of their full potential,” the organization stated an application filed with the Public Charter School Board.
PIE did not respond to the AFRO’s initial report about its troubled past, but instead tried to highlight the District’s dropout problem.
Two of PIE’s affiliated entities – Options for Learning and Options for Youth – received $45.4 million in overpayments from the Department of Education in California by using erroneous methods to calculate teacher hours and teacher-to-pupil ratios, according to court records. The Options schools continue to fight the case, according to records from the public charter school system.