Kansas City’s DeLaSalle Education Center is Missouri’s only remaining alternative charter high school. And DeLaSalle and its sponsor, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, want to open a conversation with policymakers and the community about changing the way alternative schools are judged. A more realistic accountability system, they say, would redirect some of the focus from state test performance that has helped push many alternative schools to their demise.
Missouri’s public charter school system, now 15 years old, lists 45 schools in St. Louis and Kansas City. Only nine of them serve high school students. And although all of those nine in varying degrees serve many students with high needs, DeLaSalle is the sole “alternative” charter high school — a school whose direct mission is to admit students who have struggled in other schools or dropped out. The last to fall were Hope Academy in Kansas City and Shearwater High School in St. Louis.