We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Lesson Learned Organizers for the SouthEast Academy of Scholastic Excellence sounded surprisingly confident last spring about their contract with a controversial firm called the Tesseract Group (“Don’t Know Much About History,” 3/12/99). In 1996, Baltimore dumped Tesseract, formerly known as Educational Alternatives Inc., when the group’s privatized public schools turned out to be costly and inefficient. About the same time, the firm lost contracts with school districts in Connecticut and Florida. In spite of that history, SouthEast organizers hired the group to manage their charter school. “I don’t anticipate similar problems here,” the Rev. R. Vincent Palmer, pastor at Rehoboth Baptist Church and chair of the school’s board of trustees, told the Washington City Paper in March. But last fall, Palmer and the other trustees petitioned the D.C. Public Charter School Board for permission to sever the Tesseract contract, saying that the group had never come up with a curriculum or building financing for the school, among other things. “They gave a whole list,” says Nelson Smith, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, which approved the petition in December. School lawyer Leslie Turner says only that SouthEast’s trustees have taken over Tesseract’s management functions and are “assessing the appropriateness of further legal action.” A secretary for Palmer says that the trustees have no comment.