Brooklyn Center charter school to close
This week, the governing board that authorizes Odyssey Academy, a kindergarten through eighth-grade charter school, made its final decision to terminate the charter contract based on poor academic performance. Odyssey Academy opened in 1998.

The charter school's authorizer, Audubon Center of the North Woods, says Odyssey Academy failed to provide its students with a proper learning environment and that bore itself out in poor test scores and overall academic performance.

"Really Odyssey hasn't met the expectations that were agreed upon in its contract," said David Greenberg, director of charter school authorizing. "It's been one of the lowest performing schools in this area, and it just hasn't served students as well as we expect it to."

For the 300 students and families at Odyssey Academy, the news is hard to take. Students will have to find new schools to attend and staff members will have to find new jobs.

"I think it's a grieving process that we're all going through," John Sedey, the interim executive director of Odyssey Academy.

For the past 19 years, Odyssey Academy has served students in Brooklyn Center and the surrounding community.

"It's one of the first charter schools in the country," Sedey said.

Sedey was executive director for seven of those 19 years. He says the school prides itself on serving a diverse population with small class sizes.

"We really believe in the personal touch with students," Sedey said. "We like to say that this is a safe place, a place where students could come and feel safe and learn."

The halls and classrooms are empty this time of year, and with a few weeks left to go before the new school year, they're going to stay that way.

School officials learned this week that Audubon was terminating Odyssey's charter contract.

"Generally, the major issue they pointed to was that we had low test scores, and our test scores are not good," Sedey said. "There are other schools that are in the same boat, but our test scores are not good."

That, along with personnel issues, resulted in the decision to close. But Sedey says he feels betrayed because they didn't have an opportunity to implement their five-year turnaround plan.

"So we got kind of wacked on the side of the head with this thing," Sedey said.

Parents wonder what's next

Meanwhile, the closure leaves parents wondering what to do next.

"Not knowing where my children are going to go to school next month is very concerning to me," Teneshia Kragness, a parent. "And to a lot of other families that are in that same situation."

Kragness has two children at Odyssey, putting her in a difficult situation to find new schools for them in the span of a month.

"From a kids' point of view it's, 'where are my friends going to go? Where is everyone else going to go?' I don't know," Kragness said. "And I don't have answers for them. And so that's the sad part about it."

Sadness is a common emotion after this week's decision, as a 19-year run comes to an end.

"And it's just sort of like the family's breaking apart," Sedey said

The school will host a meeting Tuesday night to explain to parents the reason for the closure. Representatives from other schools in the area will be on hand to help parents find alternatives.

Delane Cleveland

Aug. 11, 2017


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