You are on page 1of 3

Thank you for the opportunity to address the allegations you presented and for there to

be accurate reporting. We are providing you with this statement to give you a more
accurate understanding of the significant changes occurring at CVCS. We hope that
this information will prevent any mischaracterization of facts relating to the school and
its employees.

Chicago Virtual Charter School (CVCS) is a hybrid school (virtual and face-to-face) that
serves a maximum of 680 students who live within Chicago. CVCS students learn and
employees work both virtually and in-person. CVCS is a particularly unique school in
that we offer families an opportunity to truly take a primary role in their child's education
supported by state certified educators. CVCS is authorized to be an innovative school
which allows us to select our own start date and be creative with what is entailed in an
instructional day. We are not a traditional brick and mortar school. Learning at CVCS is
available 24/7/365 in a variety of places and ways. Going forward, CVCS is operating
differently from its previous years in that we have moved away from a for-profit
management corporation and embarked on a self-management model. We recognize
that we have the opportunity to bring equity and equality in education, particularly to
low-income families in our city. At CVCS, parents as learning coaches guide children's
learning with the direction of our certified teachers. In turn, our students are not only
receiving an education for themselves, they are learning how to facilitate learning in the
future for their own and other children! This is a model that will help to facilitate the
education of a generation of students that have not yet been born! CVCS is seeking to
pioneer this next level of educational opportunity in the city of Chicago!

Now that we have converted to self-management, the school is restructuring the

organization as well as its academic programming and operations to become self-
sustaining and to fulfill the overall vision of the school. In this regard we are a new
school, completely independent of a for-profit management model. This year is a
defining year for us as we must work to be removed from CPS' academic and financial
probation, as well as from being designated as a Lowest Performing School by the
Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”). Please note that this is a new model and we
have a very short time frame to turn it around. If we don’t, the school runs the risk of
being recommended for closure by CPS.

For the past 12 years of its existence, CVCS has had approximately 10 Heads of
School and has been completely managed and operated by a for-profit company
pursuant to 2 multi-year contracts; the last one ended on June 30, 2018. During school
years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, CVCS rated a Level 2 according to CPS SQRP
ratings. Additionally, last school year, CVCS did not meet CPS' financial accountability
requirements. Consequently, this year, CVCS is on both financial and academic
probation with CPS. Moreover, based on last year’s academic performance, the school
is also designated as a Lowest Performing school by ISBE.

Now that we have converted to self-management, the school is restructuring the

organization as well as its academic programming to become self-sustaining and to
fulfill the vision of the school. In this regard, in many ways we are a new school - new
administration, new systems, creativity and options for learning in an instructional day
while pursuing equality and equity for every enrolled student.

Due to the exclusivity clause in the for-profit company's contract, CVCS could not
purchase or formally engage any new vendors for curriculum, other educational
products like learning management and student information systems, and vendors for
back office services until July 1, 2018.

The first two weeks of the school year, the school intentionally designed it to start
differently. Instead of having students start day 1 with online curriculum, the staff
engaged students and their learning coaches in experiential learning opportunities. This
was chosen as a defining new approach. So to be clear, the school did not start late
because we did not have curriculum. Since CVCS can choose what comprises the
Instructional Day, we do not only use online curriculum for our educational
programming. We choose to be creative with learning. This allows us to leverage
students learning with different experiences. For purposes of online curriculum
selection, Dr. Pruitt is a seasoned educator with 20+ years of experience and has used
during her career many of the leading online vendors we selected. She does not have
"ties" to any of these vendors or any other curriculum providers selected by the school.

As part of the process of selecting curriculum for the school, CVCS engaged all
stakeholders over a period of time during the last school year. Prior to final selection,
we used surveys, free trials to the curriculum, vendors presented at public board
meetings, teachers participated in vendor demos and formed a curriculum committee,
and all teachers, students, and parents had the opportunity to attend a curriculum fair
with vendors. Curriculum vendors continue to provide ongoing training to our teachers
and families.

We will continuously make improvements, as CVCS is only 8 months into its conversion
from having used one curriculum exclusively for 12 years, and now using multiple
curriculum, online and face-to-face instruction with teachers, parent facilitated learning,
in addition to various other experiences. This is approach is shift for parents and
teachers that may have been at CVCS under the for-profit management company and
became accustomed to their programming. As a part of continuous improvement this
year, CVCS established a Parent Academic Committee, Parent Learning Coach
University, Parent Teacher Organization (re-established), as well as welcoming all to
participate and provide public comment at scheduled board meetings.

Mrs. Bryant has devoted years of uncompensated service to CVCS. From 2016 through
the Fall of 2018, Mrs. Bryant served as the President of the CVCS Board of Directors.
During the middle of her term as Board President, her family moved out of state. The
Board requested that she continued to serve in the capacity, and she agreed to do so.
These responsibilities have required that she attend scheduled Board of Directors
meetings that occurred monthly. During that time, it was necessary for Mrs. Bryant to
incur expenses to meet the demands that her voluntary service to CVCS placed upon
her. The school has reimbursed Mrs. Bryant for expenses she incurred in her service to
CVCS. This is only fair given her contributions to the school community.

In terms of her new role, as with all employees, Mrs. Bryant’s position is virtual and
face-to-face. For clarification, her position is non-administrative. She is a direct report
to the Board and has no employees reporting to her. Her role primarily supports the all-
volunteer uncompensated CVCS Board members and the Board's charter accountability
responsibilities with CPS and ISBE, governance, coordination with legal, and the
board's vision for organizational growth. In part, her responsibilities also include
attending scheduled board meetings that occur every other month either virtually or in-
person (if required). She may also attend in-person meetings with CPS that are critical
to the school remaining open. Additionally, she serves as a resource to the CEO that
started near the end of last school year and who is leading an entirely new
administrative team. At this juncture, Angela's unique level of knowledge regarding the
school is necessary for both the Board and school to successfully navigate through this
critical period of transition. We consider her input to be essential to the school's exiting
its probationary status and achieving overall success. In this new role, Mrs. Bryant has
furthered her commitment to ensuring that CVCS achieves stability by now choosing to
live between two states.

The CVCS Board believes that the cost would be far greater, if it attempted to navigate
this new direction without Mrs. Bryant. We sincerely hope that this news report won’t
seek to mischaracterize her dedication and invaluable service as a committed volunteer
board member.

You indicate there is an allegation that 20 teachers have left the employment of CVCS.
This is untrue. The school has nearly the same number of teachers that it had last
year. And a couple of teachers that left have asked to return. Going forward, teachers
must have a renewed commitment to the success of our students, a willingness to have
higher accountability, attend regular professional development, and practice equality
and equity.

We understand that any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied
by drawbacks and discomfort. And we recognize that there were some teachers and
families that would have preferred for CVCS to continue with the for-profit
vendor. However, in light of the school being on both financial and academic probation
and designated as a Lowest Performing School, the cost of staying the same and not
making the necessary adjustments is a far higher price for CVCS as a long term public
education option in the city of Chicago.

Please note that our initial forecasting for our first year being self-managed shows that
we are on track to achieve the highest financial surplus the school has had in its history
as well as students achieving academic growth by the end of this school year.