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Akron will keep Digital Academy but change management
Board of directors reverses prior decision to eliminate program

Grant Engle
In The Region:

The board of directors for the Akron Digital Academy has decided to keep the online program open, but it says a lot of changes need to be made.

The board voted to shut down the online school that serves 600 students last week but reversed its decision Thursday after hearing public comments from teachers, parents and students.

Akron Public Schools’ superintendent David James is on the academy’s unpaid board of directors. He says the biggest problem has been the school’s management. The academy has had three executive directors in less than two years.

David James talks about the academy's management

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"We may need to change the management structure of it -- maybe we need to hire a management firm to come in and operate the school vs. an executive director -- then evaluate the staff that are there managing various programs."

Three members of the board who initially voted to close the program did not attend Thursday’s vote to reverse the decision. One of those board members was Sajit Zachariah.

He says he doesn’t think the board will remain split on closing the online school, but it will have to institute changes to meet new national academic standards next year. 

"Is this school doing what they're supposed to do for every child, and is every child successful? I don't mean just a few, or 20 percent or 30 percent," Zachariah said. "Our goal is that 100 percent of the children are, in fact, successful."

The digital academy has been in academic watch from the state auditor’s office for the past four years.

The online charter school opened in 2002 and is sponsored by Akron City Schools.

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