State Suspends Charter School For Hiring Problems

Classes have been back in session for just a few weeks. But hundreds of students at a charter school in Houston and Dallas must now find a new place to learn. This week the state ordered the Children First Academy charter to suspend its operations indefinitely.

Anyone who works or volunteers at a school in Texas has to go through a criminal background check.

They also have to be fingerprinted.

It’s a state law meant to protect students and other employees.

Except one charter school here in Houston and Dallas — the Children First Academy — wasn’t doing that.

DeEtta Culberton with the Texas Education Agency says the state found some serious hiring problems.

“We also learned subsequently that they had hired a convicted felon and also had several employees who had criminal charges pending including sexual assault of a child.”

This week the state ordered the Children First Academy to suspend its operations indefinitely.

The school also won’t be receiving any more state money.

About 450 students attended its campus in North Houston.

Culbertson says it’s very serious if a school doesn’t check an employee’s criminal history.

“And for the most our districts and charter schools followed the law; they did do this. Unfortunately, there were a few that didn’t, Children First being an example of one, that repeatedly, they did not comply the law and failed to safely protect those students.”

Culbertson says the state is also conducting an investigation into the charter school’s finances.

An attorney for the school didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Read more about the state’s findings here.

Bio photo of Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for KUHF, including K-12 and higher education.

Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and regularly contributed to WLRN, the local NPR affiliate and Miami Herald news partner...