Fort Worth ISD bet on an Indiana-based charter operator to turn around Jacquet Middle School in the Stop Six community.
Two years later, the campus hasn’t improved.
The school board on March 28 unanimously agreed to end the district’s contract with Phalen Leadership Academies. Fort Worth ISD and the charter operator mutually agreed to end their relationship, which was originally scheduled to end in 2026.
Day-to-day operations of the school are scheduled to return on June 30 to Fort Worth ISD. As part of their agreement, the school board in August allocated $819,315 to Phalen Leadership Academies to run the middle school.
Fort Worth ISD and Phalen Leadership Academies are planning to work together for a smooth transition of operations, according to a news release. Jacquet’s current principal, Chana Barrett, will continue to lead the campus.
"During this transition, FWISD remains focused on providing the support and resources the Jacquet community needs to finish this school year strong while also preparing for a successful 2023-2024 school year," Superintendent Angélica Ramsey said in a statement.
The agreement between the district and Phalen Leadership Academies was possible because of Senate Bill 1882. The 2017 law allows school districts to hire an outside entity, such as Phalen Leadership Academies, to turn around failing schools and infuse them with additional state funding.
Fort Worth ISD also has a partnership with Texas Wesleyan University to run four elementary schools and a middle school. The Wesleyan-operated campuses have seen consistent improvement since taking over in 2019.
Jacquet Middle School has not been as fortunate. The Stop Six campus earned a 59 out of 100 on this year’s state accountability rating in 2022. In a normal year, that score would have resulted in an F. However, the Texas Education Agency labeled schools that would have earned D’s or F’s as not rated.
The last time Jacquet Middle School met state standards was in 2016 — two years before the current A-F rating system was established.
Across all subjects, 17% of Jacquet students met grade level, according to the TEA. As a whole, 32% of Fort Worth ISD students met grade level in all subjects.
In October, Cheriece Overstreet, a Jacquet Middle School intervention specialist, told the Fort Worth Report her school needs so much work.
“We need an IEP, an individualized education plan, for Jacquet,” she said at the time.
Jacquet Middle School has seen a high turnover of principals, a factor that likely contributed to the school’s low academic performance. Good principals can have more of an effect on a school than a single teacher, according to a report from the Wallace Foundation, a New York City-based education research group.
Although Phalen Leadership Academies didn’t make the grade, the charter’s founder and CEO, Earl Phalen, wishes Jacquet Middle School nothing but the best.
“We continue to support Jacquet as they end the school year, and we look forward to the continued academic growth of the scholars,” he said in a statement.
In May, Jacquet’s students will take the new, more rigorous version of the state’s standardized test.
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.