by Hannah Sayle
This week’s cover story recounts organizational flaws and teacher resignations at Omni Prep Academy’s lower school in Raleigh Frayser. As a charter school, Omni Prep was meant to be an alternative to failing public schools, and the founders promised parents a “technology-rich environment” for their students. Here is a commercial for Omni Prep Academy, touting the school’s “challenging academic curriculum” and “iPads and laptops for students.” One of the teachers presented is Felice Ling, who was later dismissed because of the school’s financial insolvency. The website listed, OPA-NP.org, is not in service.
If you’re wondering what happened to this dream school, Booker says Omni Prep had to make adjustments when they did not meet their enrollment numbers. “You pull back on investments in technology, you pare back a little on the music program, you don’t fill some positions, and along the way you have to cut some positions,” he says.
Still many parents and teachers feel they were lied to. Nicole Gates, one of the parents of Omni Prep students, says only one of her children’s teachers had an iPad in the classroom. Courtney Eskew, a former teacher at Omni Prep Academy, says neither she nor the any of the other teachers in the lower school had iPads — although she adds that the administrators did.
“While laptops and iPads are wonderful resources, and they are still a very strong part of our vision and our plan, we know that students don’t have to have those things to learn,” said lower school Principal Murrah at a recent parents’ meeting.
All the same, when dollars are being taken away from Memphis City Schools, every broken promise suggests that education officials should take another look.