All-boys charter school for students of color pitches program to Cherry Creek school district

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AURORA | An out-of-state charter management organization submitted early paperwork this month to open a school tailored for boys of color in the Cherry Creek School District 

The Friendship Education Foundation submitted a letter of intent to submit a charter school application to the district on June 2. If the school survives lengthy scrutiny from the district and school board, it would be called Friendship Aspire Academy Denver and open in August 2021.

The school would join the ranks of just three charter schools in Cherry Creek schools, which is the fourth-largest school district in the state.

Comparatively, nearby Aurora Public Schools and Denver Public Schools has granted many more charter schools.

Virginia Perry, director of development for FEF, told the Sentinel the school would be an all-boys school for students of color and would open in some fashion in August 2021, depending on the state of the pandemic.

Details are scant, but the school would include kindergarten through fifth grades. 

An application is being hammered out this summer.

Perry said an Aurora location in the Cherry Creek School District is “the appropriate place for an all-boys school.” She said FEF looked at student achievement data and found that male students have generally fallen behind female students in Cherry Creek schools. 

According to Colorado Department of Education data, average Cherry Creek boys scores lagged somewhat behind girls’ scores in standardized English Language Arts tests for the 2018-2019 academic year. Boys barely fell behind the average girls’ scores that year in standardized math tests. 

Friendship Aspire Academy is also partnership with Alpha Phi Alpha, a historically Black fraternity, according to FEF.

Perry also said diverse and largely non-white student bodies made Aurora an attractive location for the next FEF school. 

FEF is a self-described charter management organization based in Arkansas and Washington, D.C. running schools in the eastern U.S.

A charter management organization is a non-governmental group operating multiple charter schools and often working in different states. 

FEF focuses on “under-privileged” students, including low-income students and students of color. The network has also contracted with school districts to remediate struggling schools in Louisiana and Maryland.

FEF also has links to a national school choice organization. Donald Hense, FEF’s founder and chief executive, also sits on the board of directors at the Center for Education Reform. 

The group advocates for charter schools as well as government programs directing public dollars to students for attending private schools.

FEF can submit its charter school application to the district school board in early July. The district will review the application and, eventually, approve or deny the school concept.