Chronology of Merger

Chronology of School Without Walls Merger With Francis-Stevens

December 2012:  The merger is announced by DCPS. The SWW community had not been consulted and was not aware that this was being considered.  Few specifics were provided around what the merger would mean.

January 2013:  The vision for the merger began to take shape: the two campuses would share a principal, and roughly 75 students from SWW high school would take classes each day at Francis-Stevens.  The idea proposed by Principal Trogisch was that the junior class would be split into two groups, and each group would take classes at Francis-Stevens on alternating days.

February 2013:  The SWW HAS holds a town hall meeting for parents and faculty, and over 200 people attend.  The general sentiment of the attendees was opposed to having SWW high school students take classes at Francis-Stevens.  The concerns included the need to maintain SWW’s small-school culture, the challenges to community unity created by having teachers and students at a remote campus, and access to clubs and homework help for students.

May 2013:  DCPS announces that no high school students will take classes at Francis-Stevens in the 2013-14 school year and that a task force of parents and faculty from both campuses would be created.

July-November 2013:  The task force is formed, led by former DCPS principal Jennifer Smith.  The task force meets twice per month to consider issues related to governance, budget, shared leadership and having high school students take classes at Francis-Stevens.  The task force issued its report in November, with the following key recommendations:

  • No high schools students should take classes at Francis-Stevens
  • The budgets for the two schools should be separated
  • Each campus needs dedicated leadership; shared leadership was not proving to work well in the 2013-14 school year
  • The ideal size of School Without Walls should be decided after careful study by DCPS

During the task force process, the task force had been told by DCPS Assistant Superintendent that the budgets for the two schools would be separated in 2014-15, in large part to ensure that Francis-Stevens can access Title I funds.

December 2013:  The SWW community had not received any response from DCPS to the task force report.  John Davis, DCPS Chief of Schools, was invited to the December 17 HSA meeting, where he heard continued concerns from parents and request for a quick decision on the status of the merger.  On December 20, John Davis sent a letter to the community that noted that no high school students would take classes at Francis-Stevens in 2014-15.  The letter acknowledged challenges faced by the two campuses from having shared leadership and promised action.

February 2014:  DCPS Assistant Superintendent announces to LSAT members that the budgets of SWW high school and Francis-Stevens will be merged in 2014-15, in response to a request from Principal Trogisch.  The LSAT was not consulted prior to the decision, and no information was provided to justify this reversal of a previous decision. Meanwhile, DCPS has not yet offered any follow-up on the need to address shared leadership problems.

June 2014: In response to SWWHS’s petition and the March of the Penguins, David Catania held a meeting with members of the SWWHS LSAT and the HSA, the Principal and members of the DCPS leadership, along with parents from Francis Stevens. That meeting resulted in a commitment from DCPS to provide a written plan for how SWWHS students might use space at the Francis Stevens campus. The deadline for delivering this plan to the parent leadership of both schools by August 1, 2014.

LSAT and HSA leaders will provide input to DCPS. DCPS will take that input under advisement, revise (or not) and present the plan for comments by the community by October 1, 2014.