Alberta Education rejects proposed ReThink Charter Academy and West Calgary Spanish Science School

Parents of children with learning disabilities are disappointed the Alberta government has rejected their application for a special charter school in Calgary, along with a proposed Spanish science school.

Education minister says two proposed schools not 'significantly different'

Education Minister David Eggen said in a written statement that the two Calgary proposed charter schools "did not significantly differ from what is currently offered by Calgary’s school boards." (CBC)

Calgary won't be getting a new charter school for kids with learning disabilities, or one with a focus on Spanish and science.

Education Minister David Eggen said after a thorough review of the ReThink Charter Academy and the West Calgary Spanish Science School, he "concluded that these proposals did not significantly differ from what is currently offered by Calgary's school boards."

But Judy Gray, superintendent of ReThink, says if similar programs existed in Calgary, parents of children with learning disabilities would send their kids there.

"We have parents phoning and crying, saying, 'where am I going to send my child to school?,' " Gray said.

"We believe this is a completely underserved population." 

In the spring of 2015, ReThink Charter Academy received preliminary approval from the former Progressive Conservative government. 

The school was designed to tailor educational needs to students in Grades 3 to 9 with documented learning disabilities, through a "TriOptimal Learning Model," involving parents, health-care professionals and other people in the child's community, according to Gray.

They're growing up into junior high and their needs still aren't being met.-  Nichole   Menard , mother of children with dyslexia

"They don't understand with regards to what's happening in the school systems for these little kiddos," said Nichole Menard, a mother of two teen boys who both have dyslexia, and are now too old to attend the school.

"They're growing up into junior high and their needs still aren't being met. And now this school is being turned down for reasons that really do not make sense to me," Menard said.

The minister also turned down the proposal from the West Calgary Spanish School Society for a charter school in the western part of the city with a focus on Spanish language/science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Deciding the future of charter schools should be more of an arm's-length process, according to Dianne McBeth, president of The Association of Alberta Public Charter Schools, and president of the chartered Calgary Girls' School.

It would ensure each school is evaluated on its own merits, she says.

She believes an independent panel should determine whether a new charter school goes ahead.

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