The opening of a new Concept charter school in a building located in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood is reportedly “on hold” due to a federal probe into other schools run by the charter school operator, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The new Concept charter school planned for Chatham, approved by the Chicago Board of Education in January, was slated to open in August in a building owned by a non-profit associated with the Rev. Charles Jenkins’ Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. Jenkins was involved with Emanuel’s mayoral transition team in 2011 and also delivered the invocation when Emanuel was sworn into office. Jenkins’ non-profit, Fellowship Educational and Economic Development Corp., would see almost $529,000 in rent payments during year one of the campus being open, the newspaper has previously reported.
In mid-June, news broke that 19 charter schools operated by Concept Schools in three states, including Illinois, were raided by federal officials earlier that month as part of an “ongoing white-collar crime matter.” The FBI and officials from the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission helped with the raids.
Hermene Hartman, a consultant for the new South Side charter school project and founder and publisher of N’Digo Magazine , told the newspaper that “the project is on hold,” explaining that there are “legal difficulties.”
Representatives from Concepts Schools, however, issued a statement to the Sun-Times, stating that they “are moving forward with our plan to open a new school and exploring which location at this point makes the most sense for the coming school year.”
Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools spokesman Joel Hood said district officials “continue to monitor the situation with Concept.”