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Springfield School District takes governance, oversight of Academy of Arts and Academics

Springfield School District meeting, March 12, 2018. (SBG)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Springfield School District announced Monday evening they will revoke A3's charter effective June 30th of this year, giving the district governance and oversight of the school.

"The district notified the Academy of Arts and Academics Governing Board leadership of their intent to revoke the existing charter agreement," said Springfield School District Superintendent, Susan Rieke-Smith, ED.D., "returning the governance and oversight of the program to the Springfield School District."

The decision comes after an investigation earlier this year revealed former A3 Principal, Michael Fisher, was involved in an ongoing criminal investigation connected to sexual involvement with a student since 2007.

Fisher was placed on administrative leave at the end of January; he took his own life the following day.

"It is abundantly clear that the current governance structure does not provide the oversight and protections for students that we expect in our district," said Superintendent Rieke-Smith.

The Springfield School District will take over the Academy for Arts and Academics, dissolving the A3 Governing Board, and transferring decision making, governance authority, and contractual obligations and oversight to the district.

"Effective immediately, the district will go ahead and begin oversight of the day-to-day decision making and operations," said Springfield School District Spokesperson, Jen McCulley.

McCulley said the charter amendment will not conclude until June 30th to minimize impact on students nearing graduation.

She said the current charter allows for some flexibility in staffing, and that could change.

"We will have a little bit of shifts to make around how content is delivered, but right now it would be too early to say what that would look like," said McCulley.

McCulley said that also means it's too early to say this amendment will affect employees' job status at the school.

As for what the school could look like next year, McCulley said it could become an alternative school, but said it's also too early for that determination and will be relying on stakeholder input at facilitated meetings.

"We do want to know what's worked and what could use additional work, and that will inform next year," said McCulley.

For now, McCulley said the district has two priorites:

The first: "We are committed to the programming, and we understand the benefits of an art-focused program," said McCulley.

And the second, "Ensuring each student is able to complete their high school career smoothly and successfully," said district officials.

McCulley says it is imperative for students of A3 not residing in the Springfield School District to complete the open enrollment transfer paperwork to continue going to the school next year.

That paperwork is due prior to April 1st.

The district has also set up an email: A3Transition@springfield.k12.or.us for public questions, and a website regarding the transition.

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