The Concept Schools’ Horizon Science Academy-Clay Evans will not open due to the group’s inability to secure a facility for the school, according to Chicago Public Schools officials.
The school was supposed to open on September 2, but the charter school operator lost out on two facilities in which to open the school.
“Concept Schools, which our board had approved, has been unable to secure a safe and viable facility for the Clay Evans campus and so we will not be allowing the school to open for very obvious reasons — there’s no facility,” CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said.
The Des Plaines-based charter operator lost out on its first location, set to be in a facility run by the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church — where the pastor has ties to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, after the company was raided by the FBI back in June over an “ongoing white-collar crime matter.” CPS says the raid had nothing to do with the decision to pull back on plans to open the new school.
The second planned facility for the school apparently needs repairs that would not have been complete by the first day of class, according to Byrd-Bennett. The charter operator was set to pay more than $200,000 for a one-year lease to rent the facility, located at 9130 S. Vincennes. Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale is chairman of Urban Partnership Bank, which would have done well by the building being rented by Concept Schools. The owners of the building owe the bank $2 million and the financial institution has moved to foreclose on the property. A CPS spokesman told the Sun-Times that Vitale would have recused himself from voting on the matter had it made its way to next week’s board of ed meeting, adding that the board president played no role in the decision to stop the school from opening this fall.
Some 430 children were registered to attend Horizon Science Academy-Clay Evans at the start of the school year. Byrd-Bennett says parents of the registered students will be informed of the changes and CPS officials will provide them with assistance in finding alternate schools for their children to attend.
Concept Schools currently runs four charter schools in Illinois, with three being in Chicago and one in Peoria. The charter operator will open an additional school in Gage Park at the start of the school year.