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Representatives of Vineyard's Franklin Discovery Academy drew additional scrutiny on Friday as they gave their first report since the school was placed on probation.
Last month, the state charter school questioned whether the school should continue to operate due to concerns of student safety, operational dysfunction and financial mismanagement, and gave Franklin Discovery administrators until June to resolve those concerns.
On Friday, the school's monthly presentation sparked a debate over a potentially "awkward" requirement that members of its governing board also teach within the school. "It seems like that would lead to some very awkward structural problems," state charter school board member Michelle Smith said. "You have board members as teachers and at the same time, being supervised by the teachers they evaluate."
Jen Price, chairwoman of the school's governing board, said she taught a yearbook class at Franklin Discovery, while other board members and the school's former director taught subjects like gardening and bicycle safety.
Price said she does not have Utah educator credentials, but the teaching she and other board members do is part of Franklin Discovery Academy's "engaged" courses, which she described as covering enrichment topics and not core academic areas.
"We wanted the board members really engaged in the engaged program," Price said, "so we had put that in as a requirement from them to each teach a class."
State charter school board member Dean Brockbank spoke in favor of academy board members teaching, saying that type of classroom-level involvement should be encouraged. But state Superintendent Sydnee Dickson said while the state encourages guest teaching, which does not require an educator license, the process described by Price was more indicative of routine coursework.
"You might be teaching under the supervision of a master teacher who you also supervise," Dickson said. "That positional power makes it awkward."
Friday's meeting also included questions about Franklin Discovery Academy's model, which uses a highly individualized format that lets students guide themselves through daily tasks and allows parents to check their students in and out of school at various times throughout the day.
Smith pointed to reports submitted by the school that showed the average student spending roughly 30 minutes per week on math and English, "far below Utah standards," and some students with zero minutes in core subjects.
Franklin Discovery board member Julie Chaco said the low numbers were due in part to erroneous reporting that included kindergarten students, who do not participate in the schools academic tracking system, and students who had stopped attending the school but not yet formally ended their enrollment.
"Part of that report," Chacon said, "is my fault."