Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Basis Schools Horror Story

Staci Almager is Executive Director of "Transplants for Children: Keeping Children Alive, Keeping Families Together" in San Antonio, Texas. Basis Schools Inc. is a company that has opened a dozen charter schools nationwide, most recently in San Antonio. US News and World Report consistently ranks Basis charter schools among the top ten high schools in America, in spite of the fact that each school graduates something of the order of two dozen students annually.

Staci and her husband recently enrolled their 12 year-old son in Basis San Antonio. What follows is the horror story of that experience, recounted by Staci herself.


Background and Introduction to BASIS San Antonio
We enrolled our son in BASIS San Antonio in June 2013 after an introduction to the school from other parents at our son’s elementary school. At that time, it appeared to be an answer to our prayers. We were struggling with the decision of where to send him for middle school. Our son attended NISD elementary school, Aue Elementary School from 1st -5th grade and it was not been a positive experience. Our son is an exemplary student, never missed a question on standardized tests and a student in the Gifted and Talented “Alpha” program starting in Kindergarten. But, the education he received in elementary school did not match his educational abilities. Starting in the 3rd grade, my husband and I started stressing about where to send him for middle school. We were led to believe from educators in our son’s school that the middle school that he was assigned to attend based on our geographic boundaries was just a continuation of the less than exemplary education that he received in elementary school. We contacted many private schools in the area, considered selling our home in order to move to an area with a higher rated middle school and my husband actually considered transferring to another state with his job. When we learned about BASIS San Antonio, it sounded too good to be true. We attended all the information sessions, did online research about the school and our son participate in the hiring process of the teachers of the school. We felt very fortunate when he was registered in the school.

The Education
Our son is a 6th grade student. His education at BASIS included Chemistry, Physics, Algebra, Art History, World History, Biology, Physical Education. Every night starting the first day of school, he was assigned between 3-5 hours worth of homework. Throughout the school year, he gave up all extracurricular activities in order to complete the homework requirements. By the end of the school year, he would come home at 4 pm, open his books and go to bed at 9 pm only stopping to eat dinner. If he did not have his homework completed 100% by the next school day, he would receive a zero on the homework assignment. The homework assignments and projects were also required on Saturday and Sunday.

Challenges
After the first day of school, all communication from the school stopped. Our son was never provided a progress report until the end of the first grading period. No emails sent to the teachers were returned. Calls and emails to teachers and to the Head of School were not returned. The lack of leadership and quality administration of the school was profound. We discovered that the qualifications of the Head of School were not accurate on the website and were misrepresented in writing. The BASIS San Antonio Parent/Community Facebook page was administered by cyberbully parents. According to children attending the school, the students were kind, respectful and courteous but the parents were bullies to each other and the students. By the end of the school year, mandatory detention for any and all infractions was developed and highly enforced with no oversight by the Head of School.

Why our Son Stayed at BASIS – One Single Quality Administrator
We were concerned about the lack of communication, 3-5 hours of rigorous homework per night but there was one single individual who we greatly respected. The Assistant Head of School was the “exemplary” educator that we felt had our son’s best interest at heart. Dr. Abby Hasberrry assured my husband and me that our son was the exact type of student that BASIS tries to find in the public school system. We really believed that the school was the best place for him and she empowered us to help him master the process of the first year at BASIS San Antonio. In addition, our son scored very high on the mandatory “pre-comp” testing required at BASIS. We were assured that all kids have a hard time adjusting to the educational rigor and that we needed to be patient and let the school system work for our son.

Charter Schools Have No Nurse
There is not a requirement /regulation of a nurse at BASIS San Antonio. Our son became ill with the flu in December. Because there was no nurse and no nurse’s station, when our son became extremely ill at school, he was sent to the boy’s bathroom and was unsupervised by an adult for over 45 minutes while young boys using the restroom walked in and out of the restroom. When I arrived at the school, he was lying on his backpack under the urinals in the boy’s bathroom. As a result, our son was placed in the PICU for treatment of pneumonia and the flu and missed three weeks of school. When I posted the facts of what happened to our son on the school Facebook page in order to work with other parents to discuss Best Practices at other charter schools and to discuss solutions, over 75 personal threatening comments from other parents were posted in response to my comment asking to work together for a positive solution comment. In addition, a student with a headache is directed to the office. The office staff instructs the children that until they vomit they are expected to go back to class.

Lack of Leadership
After my son was found in the restroom, violently ill under the urinals, the Head of School, Tiffany O’Neil, was contacted about what happened to my son on her campus. She was called and emailed repeatedly by both myself and my husband. She finally responded four days after the incident with our son with a call to us after 9 pm. We never heard from her again despite multiple calls and emails sent to her requesting a meeting, to discuss safety at the school as well as establishing a better protocol of how to help kids when they get sick at school.

Unsafe Conditions
The parking lot of BASIS San Antonio is very dangerous. Parents dropping off their children would drive straight through orange safety cones. My husband and I donated signs, cones and provided additional donations from the City of San Antonio. Without our donation of safety equipment, the school would not have any safety supplies. In addition, students at BASIS would frequently steal each others lunches, backpacks, cell phones and other personal property with no direction from the administration of the school.

Charter Schools Have No Lunch Program
There is no lunch program at charter schools. My son had his lunch stolen from his backpack by another student. The students are not allowed to use the phone at the school and my son went an entire day without eating food. He snuck a crust of another student’s pizza out of the garbage can to sustain himself during the day.

Lack of Governance
I contacted Victoria Rico, the Chairman of the George Brackenridge Foundation. I offered to help the school obtain access to a nurse at no cost, help establish collaboration with local hospital systems and help obtain grants to help fund, the result was very positive. A meeting with the CEO of the Texas BASIS Schools was scheduled. The result of the meeting with the CEO was that there was no interest on the part of BASIS San Antonio to collaborate with the community nor add infrastructure that was not required. Dan Neinhauser, CEO of BTX (Basis Texas)

Lack of Interest in Becoming a Community Partner
I offered to raise awareness of BASIS San Antonio by helping host tours of those who fund my nonprofit agency, host board meetings at the school and introduce innovative collaborators who would have a vested interest in the growth and success of the school. All offers were declined by the CEO of BASIS Texas Schools, Dan Neinhauser, CEO of BTX (Basis Texas)

Lack of Nurturing and Compassion
We have a 22 year old daughter with a terminal illness. I emailed all of our son’s teachers/administrators to let them know that our son may need additional support and at times could be sad due to the situation at home. Not one teacher or administrator communicated back. I called and left messages with all teachers. No calls were returned. I contacted Mr. Ross, new Assistant Head of School and he claimed that he received the email but he was transitioning into his new role and just forgot to contact us.

Mandatory Detention
Our son proceeded to master the rigorous challenges of the curriculum and succeed at BASIS. Once he felt very confident that he had mastered the schoolwork, homework and projects required, a note came home stating that BASIS would be implementing a mandatory detention for students who were late to class and unprepared in any way. The first week, my son received mandatory detention for forgetting a dry erase marker in Algebra, for not completing three problems out of 180 required Algebra problems and forgetting a poem in English Class. The “Take This Job and Shove It” approach was evident when he received the third detention. My son threw his required communication journal in the garbage can to the displeasure of his Algebra teacher. When I emailed her to discuss, she told me that assigning mandatory detention was the way to “build character attributes desirable for all BASIS students” I emailed Victoria Rico at the George Brackenridge Foundation. I share the mandatory detention requirement with her and she was not aware and horrified. She agreed that the detention should be stopped immediately, there needs to be stronger oversight of the school by a better administrator/Head of School and a staff member to interface with the family. She told me that she offered to BASIS Corporation to pay for a staff member and the offer was declined.

The End of BASIS for our Son
On May 6th, 2014, I was called by Mr. Ross, Assistant Head of School. He was Dr. Abby Hasberry’s replacement, (she was hired to be the Head of School for the new BASIS North Campus). My son was found alive yet mentally nonresponsive sitting on the floor under an Art Table. Upon arriving at the school, I immediately knew that he needed mental health support. I took him to Clarity Child Guidance Center. Upon evaluating my son, the diagnosis was extreme depression, anxiety disorder and suicidal thoughts to harm himself. The hospital / psychiatrist medical opinion, they believed that our son was suffering from PTSD from the experiences at the school due to the rigorous educational requirements coupled with the mandatory detention had become a source of terror for him. Our son is now a patient at Clarity Child Guidance Center. He spent time inpatient at the hospital and is now receiving day program outpatient treatment at a cost of $835 per day inpatient and $125 per day outpatient.

Terror – Not an Isolated Experience
I contacted Victoria Rico at the George Brackenridge Foundation and she asked if she could help “make it right” for our family. She offered to help find another school for him to attend. The damage has been done. We feel comfort and extreme sadness to learn that our son’s experience at BASIS San Antonio is not an isolated experience. When we took our son to Clarity Child Guidance Center both the psychiatrist and counselor both told us that other children had been seen inpatient and outpatient at the facility and had been at BASIS San Antonio, same symptoms, same story.

Future of Education for our Son
We have no idea where to take our son for education at this point. But, we know that whatever decision we make that nurturing and compassion of a child must be the foremost important factor in the choice we make. Our son was terrorized at a high performance charter school and he is not the only one. This can not be the future of children in our community. We are publicly sharing our experiences because it should have never happened to our son. He was a victim and more importantly he is 12 years old. Children should be in a safe and nurturing environment. BASIS San Antonio is more of a concentration camp than a school for children.


Gene V Glass
Arizona State University
National Education Policy Center
University of Colorado Boulder


The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent the official position of NEPC, Arizona State University, nor the University of Colorado Boulder.

29 comments:

  1. This is unbelievable. Even in my wildest nightmares I would not have thought it was this bad.

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  2. Uh. If they were communicating with their son, they should have noticed what was happening to him and got him out of there a lot sooner.

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  3. 3-5 hours of homework a night is insane. The rest is criminal. I would have pulled him out after a few weeks.

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  4. I got here via the Tucson Weekly like most. It looks like someone had a grudge against the school and decided to publish their rant. Nurses are not required in schools, complaining about the parking lot? If a school was even close to this "bad" why would the author keep their child there for months and months?

    I bet this is far from over, and the response will be legal. I hope the author has the documentation to back up these claims, otherwise I see a defamation of character, and slander suit coming.

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    1. I bet you're one of those basis syncophants, and probably work for basis san antonio. i hope this rotten school gets its due for this pattern of abysmal behavoir.

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  5. This is by far the most defamatory blog I have ever read. My son is a student at BASIS and it has been the best decision we have made for his education. We have had nothing but a positive experience in this school. All teachers have been exceptional! High level of communication by far the best ever! Whenever I emailed teachers I would get an almost immediate response, they are so dedicated to their jobs, they care for the kids welfare and education. The staff is amazing. My son had an amazing experience in 5th grade, it was amazing to see how much knowledge he was gaining every single day. I must say that BASIS is not for every kid out there. My son was bored to tears at the public school he was at which was an exemplary school. But he needed to be more challenged, and moving him to BASIS was the best decision ever. My son never said he wanted to go back to his old school, he knew this was the right school for him. I don't know where this lady is coming from with all this or what she is trying to accomplish. If her son was not having a good experience from the beginning then getting him out within the first few weeks would've been the right move. I know of a few kids that have left and it has been because they felt it was too hard for them, or they were not motivated. And yes, they had detention, my son never had to go to it, some kids do get in trouble though. She makes it sound like the teachers are slave drivers, good grief, the teachers are awesome, I seriously doubt they would send someone to detention because they forgot a marker, come on! And how about that of going hungry all day because they steal lunches?!? Digging out pizza crusts from the trash? Come on! Just go to a teacher or the front desk. This is not a jail. My son was in extra curricular activities and learned to handle school and sports really well. He will continue next year and is excited about it.
    All in all, it is quite upsetting to read this to put such an excellent school down. Like I said, it is not for every kid and probably not for yours. You made a mistake by leaving him there because, if all of this were true, you failed as a parent by leaving him there to be "tortured" by all those "evil" teachers and staff. Geez, unbelievable...
    WE BELIEVE IN THE BASIS EDUCATION AND THERE ARE SO MANY PARENTS THAT FEEL THE SAME WAY. The teachers and staff are amazingly exceptional, always there to help, always available and so easy to reach. I could go on and on but I will stop here. Best of luck to you.

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    1. I totally agree & absolutely true with above comments.

      I just read only parts of the content and decided not to go through entire list as its wasting of everybody's time to go through it.

      Parents please grow up1! don't behave like with childish mentality
      u got to teach them to face every challenge in school to lead a successful bright future..
      Yes I agree things will happen certain times but you should learn &teach lesson from mistakes

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  6. It's sad that these parents were so disconnected from their child they did not recognize the stress they put him under. The hours of homework described speaks to the child not being prepared to handle the material and the parents likely unable, unwilling or unavailable to assist. A good test taker does not a good student make.
    As far as the well being of the child, shame again on these parents for sending a sick child to school. At this age why would adults be expected to escort the child to the restroom?
    It also appears the offers to 'partner' with the school would benefit the mother's non-profit. Good for the school for being selective about its partnerships. Nothing is free.
    This narrative reeks of someone with an axe to grind and the holes in the story are too big to ignore.

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  7. I had a similar experience at Basis San Antonio, I empathize with the author and we should get together. I have witness some of the same horror you mentioned... My child would come home hungry from Basis because kids ate his lunch and he ran into the bathroom to keep it from them.
    This was the school's inaugural year, as for us we kept our 6 grade child at Basis San Antonio because we wanted to believe that things would get better. It never did! We too are shopping for another middle school.

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  8. We also have children that attend BASIS San Antonio and they are happy to be there. When asked what they love most about the school, they are very quick to answer..their teachers. If not stopped, they will begin to share in detail the impact each teacher has made on them, how supported and believed in they feel and what they are learning about. I am not claiming that we have not had our fair share of challenges, the curriculum is challenging, we had to help our kids learn how to study effectively and approach homework in a whole new way. We found the administration easy to reach and very helpful in finding tools that helped.

    I have also volunteered on several occasions to serve lunch and I can tell you that much effort is made by dedicated individuals to ensure that no child goes hungry, whether its a financial issue or simply the lunch box was left at home, there has always been food available to every child.

    I am sad to read this article and wish this family the very best. But honestly it's hard to believe that she's talking about a place my kids feel like is their second home, most days I have to drag them out of there. For the first time in their educational history, they have teachers that really care about them, not just test scores.

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  9. My son is also a 6th grader at BASIS San Antonio. I feel like this author must be talking about a school on a different planet. This is SO VERY different from our experience. I could debate each point that the author made, but I can summarize by saying that my son (and we) LOVE this school, the teachers, the administrators, and the curriculum. Is BASIS the right school for every kid? No. Is it anything even remotely similar to the how it's described in this piece? Absolutely NOT.

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    1. Basis is not the right school for every kid, but that is the problem. Since the school receives federal funds, it should be the right school for every kid by making sure it can accomodate for every child, regardless of their situation.

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    2. "federal funds"? Uh, fact check before you assume!
      And, is Health Professions (at Edison & Fox Tech High Schools) for every child? Or the magnet school at Lee, or the Agricultural Science magnet school at Burbank, or the Architectural & Environmental Studies at Jefferson, or the IB magnet school, or ... ? Of course not - find the right school for your individual child, and move on. But there's no rational reason to write such a flaming (and defaming, from what I am reading) article seeking to hurt the school that is so good and helpful for others. The rant's author is juvenile; I am most interested to know where she was for so many hours while her child was purportedly ill in the restroom -- that omission is glaring; to copy the concept from above, the holes in this story are just too many and large to ignore.

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    3. Does anyone get that BASIS is OPTIONAL?!?!?! I had 2 children there this year and only one will be returning. My child that is returning to BASIS thrived. She was bored out of her mind in the public school. I even asked for them to start her homework early or even give her more homework. Their response....Sorry, we can't do that. Their focus was getting those that weren't at my child's level to my child's level. Don't get me wrong we had some amazing teachers, but where was the accommodation? Do you even realize not every child is the same? So why should all STATE funded schools be the same?

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    4. Why should a federally funded school be the "right school for every kid"? Is ANY neighborhood school the right school for every kid? Is any magnet school the right school for every kid? All of those schools are federally funded (and state and local funded), except the neighborhood and magnet schools receive MORE funding than charter schools. Charter schools receive only about 2/3 of the funding of neighborhood public schools.
      Note that I am not trying to be "Anonymous", but that seems to be the only way I can comment on this blog. I am a BASIS parent, and I have a child in a magnet school. And I thank God every day that I have the options to choose the RIGHT school for my kids.

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  10. My daughter is a very happy sixth grader at BASIS San Antonio. I am grateful for the teachers (the teachers! How did we get so lucky?!) and the strong leadership of Tiffany O'Neill. BASIS students are challenged to reach goals most would not think possible. They learn every day how to handle hard work, successes and failures. I'm extremely proud to be a part of this community. I 100% believe in BASIS. Hopefully, the Almager family will find a school for their son where they will be happy.

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  11. Let me just start off by saying BASIS is an optional school. Parents choose to send their children there. Parents choose to leave their children there.

    I have been part of 3 different schools in their inaugural year. Let me tell you it takes patience and understanding that the first year isn't going to be perfect. There are a lot of kinks that need to be ironed out. It is a learning process for teachers, admin, parents and students.

    I have 2 children there, a 5th grader and a 7th grader. They are night and day. My 5th grader has thrived at BASIS. She has maintained being in the top 5% of the 5th grade class. As soon as she came home she would have a snack then go straight to her room to work on her homework. It would take her 2 - 3 hours to get it done. My 7th grader, on the other hand, same schedule coming home, having a snack, then off to get her homework done. The only difference she took twice as long to get it done only to break for dinner and shower. I am okay that BASIS is not for every child.

    What I love so much about BASIS is that these kids are actually learning. They are not focused on a standardized test, but when the STAR did come around they took about two weeks to review, took the test, then went back to learning. Never discussed it before and forgot about it after. That is the way it should be. My 3rd grader, in the public schools, was stressing over the STAR months before. Absolutely ridiculous!

    At ALL the informational meetings they specifically stated that this was a very rigorous school. The homework was only 5% to 10% of their grade. I was told time and time again by an administrator there that if it got too late just have my child stop doing her homework. Which I never did only because the homework given is their practice.

    Detention should be implemented for those students interrupting class after it has started or interrupting class because they are not prepared. What is wrong with suffering the consequences? Whether the issue big or small that is a life lesson that should be taught.

    Where does it say that having a cafeteria and having someone serve my child is the only form of a lunch program. BASIS Boosters organized a lunch program that was optional for all students. My girls from time to time forgot their lunch. Especially my oldest one, who would call me from the school's phone. There were times I could bring it and there were times I couldn't. Back to suffering the consequences.

    I don't believe BASIS needs a school nurse. Having a school nurse wouldn't have changed the situation of the alleged bathroom incident. My daughter was playing basketball with some friends, roughly I might add. She tripped over another child and went head first into the rock wall resulting in a concussion. The administration handled it professionally. I received a phone call right away. I was able to speak to my child. I let my child stay at school and told her to keep me posted throughout the day on how she was doing. Again, she called me from the school's phone complaining of a severe headache and that she threw up. That was when I came to pick her up. Having a nurse there wouldn't have changed the way the situation was handled.

    I have been pleased beyond belief with BASIS and all that it has offered my children. I couldn't be more please with the study skills, organizational skills, lessons learned that they will take to high school and college, but most importantly the education my girls received this year. I am looking forward to another fabulous year at BASIS.

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    1. Our school nurse would understand the dangers posed by a concussion and contact a parent or guardian so the child could immediately be evaluated by a doctor. Also, our athletic facilities and playgrounds do not have hazards like a rock wall in their immediate vicinity.

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  12. No smoke without fire - trying to play devils advocate here:

    Few questions:
    1. Do we have BASIS SA's side of story?
    2. Do BASIS - SA really does not have Nurse at campus?
    3. Do BASIS - SA really does not have any adult/official at Lunch time ?
    4. Do we really have DETENTION for not doing homework? What do student do while at detention? Do they do homework which they missed? or something else? Will the teacher be present at detention time?

    If any of this is true, there is something to be concerned about.





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    1. As a BASIS SA parent, I'll try to answer your questions (my opinions and observations only).
      1. It is my understanding that the Administration and Teachers are not allowed to respond to these types of allegations. That would be the same for any public school. You will see some responses from BASIS parents on this blog...although the blog is censored, and the author seems to be choosing to NOT include some posts from BASIS SA parents.
      2. No, we do not have a nurse at Campus. This is not required at public schools, and no public school that I attended growing up had a nurse (small town). My experience with school nurses (which I admit is different than others) is that they have only done two things for my child...told them to go to the bathroom, and called me. These are both actions that I feel can be handled by ANYONE at school.
      3. My personal observation is that BASIS SA has at least two paid administrators at each lunch period. Typically there are also a couple of teachers interacting with the kids (giving up their own lunch time, because they enjoy spending time with the kids). And there are also between 3 and 4 Parents present during lunch, who run the Booster Lunch program. 4. Kids can receive detention for repeatedly not turning in homework, in addition to other forms of class disruption. Students are expected to do schoolwork while in detention. Teachers and other administrators are present during detention. Note that all teachers have before and after school hours to work with students. Also note that I am admittedly not an expert on detention.

      Also, I am not trying to be "Anonymous" in my responses. It just seems to the only way that I can post here. As I stated, I am a BASIS SA parent of a 6th grader.

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  13. Like many parents, I was excited about BASIS coming to San Antonio. I attended the informational meetings were it was clearly stated that ALL students would be transitioned into their program and would be taught the foundational skills necessary to be successful in a more rigorous program. BASIS San Antonio personnel also stated that they were there to benefit all students who would be enrolling not just a select few. I enrolled my child in 6th Gr. believing that I had found an educational institution that my child would thrive in. I was so very WRONG! I tried on numerous occasions to communicate with the Head of School and teachers, only to have 1 or 2 teachers respond and the Head of School days later or not at all. The Communication Journal was suppose to be used by the teachers as a way to assist parents with what was happening in the classroom, but yet again I only had 2 teachers who used it consistently. I actually had one of my child's teachers tell me that they did not like using it and that they would not be using it. I also had other teachers who refused to communicate with me at all. When my child attended Student Support sessions, they were so packed that they were useless. My child could never receive the support they needed from those sessions or from the BASIS Student Support Staff. Another one of my child's teachers became frustrated with my child because they stated "my child did not know how to take notes." When I replied that parents were told that the students would be transitioned and would receive the foundational skills necessary to be successful, the teacher became upset with my child and me. The homework my child had did in fact take 3 to 4 hours a night and it was not only during the week, but on weekends and holidays. There was never a time when my child could just stop and take a breath for fear of being behind and in trouble for work that was not complete. I kept holding out that the situation would improve, but it just kept getting worse. My child began complaining of headaches and would throw up every time I would drop them off at school. I knew then it was time to move my child. No child should ever be subjected to the kind of trauma they experience at BASIS San Antonio. My child said that "all BASIS cared about were the students who could make them look good." I moved my child back to a public middle school where my child was so very fortunate to have the most nurturing, caring teachers, who bless them, have helped my child to recover from being at BASIS. Public schools are held accountable for their actions, BASIS should be held accountable for theirs. Yet, there is no accountability!

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  14. Before deciding to enroll our child at BASIS, we did our homework. BASIS hosted several informational meetings as well as one-on-one appointments if you called and requested one. They even assisted and accommodated us when we asked to fly to Arizona and visit a first-year campus as well as an established campus. Our family wanted to see first-hand what it was all about. It was important to us to take these measures prior to making the commitment and embarking on this journey.

    BASIS offered complete disclosure of how their system functions and we were made fully aware that the school did not have a nurse or cafeteria. Our son is asthmatic, and we were still comfortable knowing that they would administer medication when necessary and would contact us immediately whenever he needed any medical attention. We were fully aware that the entire staff was trained in CPR. They have an emergency plan of action for a variety of situations. We were fully aware that the rigor would be something that our child had never experienced. We were fully aware that the school was not for everyone and that their staff was available in the morning and afternoon during Student Hours to provide support and tutoring.

    Our son is ADHD and has Dysgraphia. We did not allow him to use any of these differences as an excuse to not comply with the BASIS model. As a matter of fact, through hard work and persistence he made 90's Club at school. He learned to function in an environment he was comfortable in. He did not have 3-5 hours of homework a night. On a rare occasion, because of lack of proper planning and preparation on his part, he found himself with copious amounts of work to complete. The rigor he experienced actually turned him into a responsible and proud student.

    Did we have hiccups along the way? Absolutely. Did our son find himself bullied by some individuals? Yes. Did Ms. O'Neill, Dr. Hasberry and many others intervene and handle the situation appropriately? Absolutely. Did the Boosters find ways to make a lunch program? Yes. Did the parking lot situation improve throughout the year? Yes. Did the school handle the security of the students when the entire city was under 'threat' and fearful? Yes. Did our son feel safe at school? Yes.

    I would never discredit the feelings others have towards the school. Everyone is going to have a different experience. No one is forced to go to this school because of their zip code. At any time, you could take your child out and place them into a program that is more suitable to their needs and your comfort level. It is unfair to say that BASIS neglected students after seeing so many positive experiences and stories that have transpired throughout this school year. We are extremely pleased with Ms. O'Neill and all of the BASIS teachers and staff. We stand by BASIS and look forward to our other 2 sons becoming a part of this community. For our family, we are 100% satisfied and appreciative of the quality of education and experiences we have had this year.

    I leave you with these words from our son, "BASIS is the most fun, hands-on, rigorous, challenging school that makes me work for my grades. I've never felt neglected. The staff is amazing. I've never met more teachers with so many Doctorate degrees in a school. Yes, it is a challenge and sometimes I do get frustrated. At first it was challenging and frustrating for me. But you have to understand, with frustration comes a victorious feeling that you can do it. There is no other school I would ever want to attend!"

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  15. This is a very sad story of a youngster's crumbling mental health. Nothing more, nothing less. It's tragic that so much of mom's energy is focused on defamation of her child's school as the source of the problem. Clearly this was a complex scenario. A terminally ill sister is mentioned in passing; that's pretty telling as to some of the stressors that this child was facing at home. I hope his call for help is heeded by the parents. We can't rely solely on institutions like Clarity and Basis to provide the nurturing that our kids (this boy, especially) so desperately need.

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  16. Mr. Barrett,

    I am reluctant to write, but I am very frustrated and deeply disappointed with Basis San Antonio. I have not gotten a response from the AVP for Texas schools, Jason Shrode, or his manager, Carolyn McGarvey, in regards to important matters and issues I had raised in several emails and in a conversation with him a two weeks ago. To date, I have not gotten any type of response from him. He had promised a meaningful reply a week ago, but he has not seen fit to answer or reply despite my attempts to make contact and have requested a response.

    Unfortunately, campus administrative staff have now added lying and dishonesty to the list of issues making this a hostile, toxic environment for parents and students.

    I am rapidly losing confidence in Basis San Antonio as an educational facility. I am frustrated with this campus administrative staff's fundamentally disturbing behavior and actions; I am well within my rights to file a criminal complaint against certain individuals at this campus, but I would rather have this handled outside that venue.

    I am filing a formal grievance against this basis campus and select staff for physical intimidation, threats and abusive behavior, dishonesty, libel, and discrimination. This campus administration has retaliated for a string of concerns and incidents I raised and exposed in the last year, and for actively stifling and preventing discourse on subjects of direct important to parents and students.

    I have attached a message to Jason that provides additional background.

    Respectfully,

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  17. I have no knowledge of BASIS San Antonio, but a number of these allegations could be made at many, many traditional public schools throughout the country.

    Cyberbulling parents? A HUGE problem in my public school district and at other traditional public schools throughout the country. Just google "PTA Bullies" or "PTA mean moms" and read countless horror stories.

    Kids stealing from each other? A HUGE problem at most traditional public schools.

    Teachers who won't respond to parents? They can be found at almost any traditional public school.

    I could go on and on. As a school administrator, I am used to dealing with parent concerns, and I know there are parents who bring reasonable concerns to me and others who will complain about anything and everything.

    Clearly, this school was not a great fit for this kid--a kid who had some stress in his family life too. I also suspect that the school could have handled some issues better, and I hope they have improved. But to treat this unsubstantiated story as a valid, objective assessment of the school? That's irresponsible.

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  18. Sounds like the parents who were happy with there kids being there were the ones with the kids that stole the lunches.

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  19. I go to Basis Chandler, and I really like it here. The homework doesn't take three to five hours, unless you're really slow at math. Like if it take you two hours to do twenty five problems. I can say that I've never seen people steal each other's lunches, and no one eats in the restrooms.

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  20. I am extremely sorry that this happened to your child, but this blog entry here is NOT AN ACCURATE PICTURE OF BASIS SCHOOLS. I am enrolled in a Basis school (not San Antonio) and I am very happy there as a rising freshman student.

    Indeed, the Basis curriculum does assign a lot of homework, but if you work diligently, you can get it done in 2-3 hours (and I am currently in a higher grade level than your son was). The curriculum is tough, but the student really does have to have a willingness to learn and explore. If your child has this, having Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Art History, etc. classes should be an exciting experience, even in 6th grade.

    I don't know about Basis San Antonio, but at my Basis, the teachers and staff are all very responsive to email and are extremely nurturing. Additionally, the school I attend is an 100% bully free environment.

    Finally, I know many of the 6th graders that attend Basis schools throughout Arizona, and all of them seem quite happy, excited about their education, and not in the least reminiscent of your son.

    Again, this experience must have been devastating for you, but here is a note (coming from a STUDENT) to all parents reading this with no Basis experience:

    THIS "HORROR STORY" IS NOT AN ACCURATE PORTRAYAL OF BASIS SCHOOLS. DO NOT LET THIS BLOG ENTRY DEFINE YOUR OPINION OF BASIS SCHOOLS. Basis has helped me excel in so many ways. I am so thankful for my Basis education.

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  21. BASIS Mesa opened for the 2013-2014 school year. My son started there as a 5th grader. He is a straight A student at BASIS and has been since he started. Why are we thinking of moving him to the Chandler School District when he is obviously doing so well? We believe that there is more to school than teaching for AP exams. Our son has many outside interest that he no longer has time for. It’s a rush every night to get home, eat quickly and start working. All those after school clubs…well it’s great if you can afford them. Also, so many times, he has so much work, that staying until 4:45 when the club ends means he’ll be up late finishing homework and studying.

    His classes consist of taking notes and then spitting them out on exams. There is no time in any of his core classes for any meaningful discussions about the subject matter. It’s a race to copy the notes and then study the notes to then take the weekly exams given in all core subjects. Two February’s have passed and not one teacher has made mention of Black History Month. Recently we had our very own Arizona astronaut launch into space; again no mention of this. His Language Arts class consists of weekly packets that are not gone over in class yet the kids are expected to complete them on their own at home and then take the unit exam at the end of the week.

    What we have found at BASIS is that only the strongest survive. The kids who leave behind all their extra curricular activities and focus solely on their academics. Very smart kids are leaving the school so that they may have a better balance of school and life outside of school. We also have found that the BASIS kids have no idea of current affairs, what’s going on in the world now. They also do little to no community service.

    Why are we thinking of taking our son out even though he is a top performer? Because life is short and there is more to life than studying 24/7. We want him to be well rounded. To understand about the world he is growing up in and to care enough about it to grow into a person who wants to make it a better place. It was great for him to go there for 5th and 6th grade because his other charter school could’t keep up with his level of advancement from year to year. He needed the advanced math and sciences. Now that he is going into the 7th grade the Chandler School District can accommodate his educational needs. He’ll be able to be in advanced, honors and AP classes. Even better, he will have a choice of what subjects he will take his AP’s in instead of being forced to take AP exams that are mandated by BASIS. If he stays on the path is on he will still graduate with as many AP classes as the students at BASIS but it will be in subjects he is interested in and at a pace that will allow him to also grow into a responsible person who understands that life is more about what you scored on a exam.

    BASIS schools are a good idea in theory but I think they are leaving out the human touch. They have many dedicated teachers and administrators who truly care about the students, but whose hands are tied by the sheer volume of information they need to cover in a particular year. It’s the inch deep, mile wide approach to education that may look great on a transcript but may leave your child with great deficits in other aspects of their lives. Also, since many of the teachers have no actual teaching experience or background they lack what it takes to engage and motivate students and are not the best choice for teaching such advanced material.

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