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June 17, 2003

State Board of Education acts on Thomas Jefferson Charter School request for renewal

The State Board of Education voted today to grant a one-year charter to the Thomas Jefferson Charter School of Des Plaines rather than the five-year extension that the school had sought. The Board granted the one-year extension by a 7 to 2 vote after several board members expressed strong concerns about the school’s lack of compliance with all special education requirements under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The one-year charter is granted on the condition that the State Board receives and approves an accountability plan and the school complies with all IDEA-required special education provisions by August 1. By renewing the school’s charter, the State Board allows Thomas Jefferson to continue to operate as a public school.

First opening its doors for the 1999–2000 school year, Thomas Jefferson is one of two schools in Illinois that is chartered by the State Board rather than by a local district. An on-site visit by State Board staff found that parents who were surveyed expressed strong approval of and support for the school and that student test scores were comparable to statewide scores. However, the school’s accountability plan and curriculum were not fully developed in accordance with the terms of the original charter, and several concerns were noted regarding special education.

The school has an enrollment of 77 students, and class sizes range from 8 to 19 students. The student population is 77 percent Asian/Pacific Islander with a minority of white, black and Hispanic students. A majority of students speak English as a second language.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777