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Parents, Students Make Last Effort To Keep Struggling South Dallas Charter School Open

Bill Zeeble
Focus Learning Academy in southern Dallas.

Families and students of Focus Academies in southern Dallas are holding a rally Thursday to make a last-ditch bid to keep the school open. The state says the charter school has agreed to close after poor academic years.

Focus founder and CEO Leroy McClure, Jr. says the school suffered the second of its three strikes in a row because it was a “Good Samaritan.” It voluntarily accepted struggling students in 2015 from Prime Prep Academy. The charter school co-founded by former NFL star Deion Sanders had just shut down itself.

DeEtta Culbertson, with the Texas Education Agency, doesn’t expect Thursday’s rally to change the fate of Focus, which now has 1,200 kids.

Credit Courtesy of Leroy McClure
Leroy McClure is the founder and CEO of Focus Academies.

“In December of 2016, they notified us that they were going to voluntarily close the school effective May 24.  And then the commissioner approved that,” she says.

Texas law says charter schools must close after three consecutive years of an IR rating, or Improvement Required.

Focus leaders, including board members, signed legal paperwork last year that said an efficient winding down of operations would serve the best interest of students. 

Focus opened in 1999 with just 100 students.


Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.