Snubbing Students Who Don't Fit the Mold 

By Danielle Kayfesh 

When my family and I first moved to Arizona in 2008, I enrolled my son at a district school. He was doing well there. At one point, he made the honor roll for earning good grades. After hearing that charter schools were much better than district schools, I decided to enroll him at Legacy Traditional School in Queen Creek. He started out as a fifth grader in August 2010.

Once my son was in 7th grade, I had a meeting with the school vice principal. She told me she was concerned about my son’s low grades and said the school might not be a good fit for my son. But I ignored her suggestion to look for another school.

My son continued on to 8th grade at Legacy Traditional School, but his grades didn’t improve much. I was again called in for a meeting with the vice principal. Although this was a new vice principal, he told me the same thing as the previous one—that Legacy Traditional School wasn’t the right school for my son. Hearing the same message from two different vice principals made it clear that my son wasn’t welcome there, so I looked for a new charter school.

I found American Leadership Academy in Queen Creek. The school required a meeting with my husband and me to complete the enrollment process. During the meeting, a school staff member reviewed our son’s transcripts. After seeing he had two F’s and several missing assignments, we were told the school wasn’t a good fit for him. They were essentially refusing to enroll him because of his low grades. I was shocked that they weren’t willing to give him a chance. They were turning him away because, in their eyes, he wasn’t good enough for that school. We got up and walked away.

Feeling that no other charter school would take him, I enrolled him at an online school. He has been taking online classes for about three years now.

This whole experience tainted my view of charter schools. I used to think charter schools accepted all students, regardless of their academic background, and provided them an exceptional education. Now, I see them as schools that pick and choose which students they want in their classrooms.

In a statement, Matthew Benson, a spokesperson for Legacy Traditional School, said, “While student-privacy laws prohibit disclosure of personal information regarding current and former students, Legacy Traditional School is and always has been dedicated to providing a culture of inclusion and respect for all of our students and teachers. We believe all children deserve the benefit of a quality education—and that’s why every student is welcome at Legacy Traditional School.”

In a statement, American Leadership Academy said it has no knowledge of the alleged incident. It also said the school has always been “an open enrollment public charter school and complies with all state and federal guidelines pertaining to the admittance of students.” The school added that it “does not limit admission based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, income level, disabling condition, proficiency in the English language, academic, artistic or athletic ability.”

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