Hyde Park Schools accreditation still at risk, but parents optimistic

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — “We can now look forward to a New Year of hope and promise at Hyde Park Schools,” reads a letter from Head of School Leanne Messer.

The letter, sent to parents early Thursday, alludes to a cooperative meeting of Hyde Park Schools and Hyde Park Baptist Church leadership regarding the school’s accreditation, which is currently on probation.

KXAN Investigators have highlighted the contentious relationship between the School and Church, cited by the Accreditation Commission of the Texas Association of Baptist Schools, or ACTABS, as a reason it placed the school’s accreditation on probation.

Parents told KXAN the relationship began to sour when the church replaced several school board of directors members this year and charged a significantly higher cost to use its facilities. The two sides have since come to a Facilities Use Agreement.

Accreditation is important to determine if a school meets state standards.

“We’re on the edge of our seats right now,” said Shannon Meroney, who has two children in Hyde Park Schools. “We’re looking at colleges, we’re filling out applications and we need to know if we’re gonna be accredited.”

But the latest correspondence from Messer provides a possible path forward.

“After several hours of consultation, agreement and commitment have been reached that the necessary steps prescribed by ACTABS requirements including the placement of parent representation on the School Board would be taken and the deadlines met,” reads Messer’s letter. “I am beyond encouraged to be able to share this news with you today.”

The ‘deadlines’ Messer is referring to come from an ACTABS letter sent to the Hyde Park School community Nov. 30.

According to that letter, School, Church and accreditation agency leadership must sign an agreement by Friday at 5 p.m. This extends the probationary period through the end of Jan. 22.

By Dec. 13, ACTABS said a new school board of directors fairly representing parents should be seated.

On Jan. 31, ACTABS would again determine accreditation status for Hyde Park Schools.

“This has been a rigorous process. The school board, head-of-school and the church are working in partnership to address ACTABS’ questions,” said Hyde Park Baptist Church Pastor Kie Bowman in a statement to KXAN. “As founders of Hyde Park Schools, we are encouraged about recent developments pointing to a positive outcome. Together, we and school leadership are confident and prayerful that accreditation will be granted as soon as possible.”

You can read more on what led up to the accreditation issues here.

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