After hearing impassioned pleas from the students and faculty of Leadership High School, the Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to renew the school’s charter for another five years.
Leadership, near Balboa Park, has held its charter for 15 years, but its reauthorization was uncertain after it appeared on a list of 10 such schools that the California Charter Schools Association recommended for closure in December.
Charter schools are publicly funded but independently managed, and they must be reauthorized every five years by the state or local board of education. Leadership’s charter was set to expire in June.
Loran Simon, a 2003 alumnus who went on to graduate from the University of San Francisco’s law school, rejected the charter consortium’s report, which based its recommendation on Leadership’s record on statewide tests.
“I just became a lawyer,” Simon said. “All of that is built on the foundation I got at Leadership High School. We can’t rely on standardized tests. I never did well on those tests, and I never thought it would predict how well I would do in the future.”
After hearing public comment, board members praised the charter school, which several said they had visited over the past few weeks.
“I was very impressed,” said board Vice President Rachel Norton. “I think we know that students are individuals and different students need different kinds of schools.”
Board member Jill Wynns said that while she remained philosophically opposed to charter schools, she supported Leadership’s reauthorization.
“I want to tell you that I’m more inclined to support Leadership because of the politically minded attack from your organization,” Wynns told the three dozen students, faculty and parents who turned out to support the school. “I don’t believe we should close schools. That’s not how you make them better.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story featured a photograph of the wrong school.