Madison Prep Proponents Not Giving Up On School

Although the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education said no to the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, proponents said they aren’t giving up on establishing a school aimed at helping low-income, minority students succeed.

The board of directors of Madison Preparatory Academy said it still has plans to seat its first class in the fall of 2012, even if it means opening the school as a private academy.

Supporters of Madison Prep, such as Kaleen Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, said they can’t wait for another class of students to fail.

“Our children don’t have anymore time to wait,” Caire said. “We can’t consciously know we’re going to lose — a whole other group of kids are dropping out this year.”

Opening a private school is only a short-term plan. Those behind Madison Prep said they still intend to get a charter and change the way that students in Madison learn.

Caire said he isn’t about to let Madison Prep die.

“We may end up having to go as an independent, non-public school,” he said.

Members of Madison Prep’s board of directors said they hope to still use the former Mount Olive Church on Mineral Point Road as the site for the school.

“It’s a facility that has two levels, and the lower level has classrooms already,” said David Cagigal, chairman of Madison Prep’s board.

Cagigal said it would be the site of an education laboratory, not just helping its own students but also those who don’t get in.

“Whatever we learn and best practices, (we want to) move it back into the district, for impacting 12,000 students,” Cagigal said.

Caire said that after seeing the show of support for Madison Prep at the school board’s meeting on Monday night, he believes they can find funding to open the school in the short term, with the goal of still being granted a charter.

“We would look to other school districts. We would look to our cooperative education service agency in the state,” Caire said. “There’s also the state charter school legislation that could pass.”

Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dan Nerad said he will be meeting with Caire to see if they can work together on a plan to close the achievement gap.

After the board voted against Madison Prep, Caire said he planned to file a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice outlining the district’s numerous failed attempts to close the achievement gap. Caire said he and supporters are now reconsidering whether to file a civil rights complaint.