The threat of litigation caused the Moffat County School District Board of Education to do an about-face on a decision it made two months ago.
Members voted in May to deny the Dinosaur Community Charter School's request to expand its kindergarten through sixth-grade program to include seventh and eighth grades.
On Thursday night, the board voted to allow the school to offer seventh grade if it met certain conditions, most specifically academic performance standards.
According to DCCS Principal Dana Forbes, that means 12 students will be able to spend the next school year at the charter school.
The application originally was denied because board members thought the school wasn't ready to expand.
"I know how important the school is to these people, but we need to see more evidence the school can be successful with kindergarten through sixth grade," board member JoAnn Baxter said in May.
Since then, there's been a flurry of correspondence between he school district's attorney and the DCCS attorney.
"We decided to negotiate to avoid a mediation process," board President John Wellman said.
Conditions set by the board include:
- DCCS must provide documentation that all its teachers and special education staff are "highly qualified."
- DCCS must comply with its contract, which includes monthly communications about student progress, portfolios of student work, representative lesson plans from each teacher and copies of all individual education and individual lesson plans.
One sticking point on the school district's requirements was a portion in which 80 percent of DCCS students were required to meet or exceed national progress targets.
"That was changed because it shouldn't have to be where they outperform Moffat Coun-ty's growth rate," Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan said.
The contract was amended to require that DCCS students meet or exceed the average growth rate demonstrated by Moffat County School District's students.
Not meeting those requirements could cause the school district to rescind the school's authority to provide seventh grade and may put the school's ability to expand to encompass eighth grade next year.
"That gives us that opportunity that it's always open for discussion," board member Trish Snyder said.
The charter school has a three-year contract to operate. This will be its second year.
Forbes thinks the charter school will have more than 40 students enrolled for the 2005-06 school year and said he's already received commitments for 38 students. This year the schools served 22.
The first day of school in Dinosaur is Aug. 27.