Here's what it says:
In this step, school districts are required to undertake "school restructuring." The district has one year to prepare a restructuring plan with an implementation timeline for schools in this step. The plan must be implemented the following year if the school does not make AYP again and enters Step Five.
The restructuring plan needs to include at least one of the following three actions:
• Replace school staff, which may include the school principal, who are relevant to the school's inability to meet standards;
• Enter into a contract with an entity with a demonstrated record of effectiveness, to operate the school; or
• Implement other restructuring activities that are consistent with the principles of restructuring.
The district must provide technical assistance that emphasizes (a) the importance of improving instruction by using strategies grounded in scientifically-based research so that all students achieve proficiency in the core academic subjects of reading and mathematics, and (b) the importance of analyzing and applying data in decision-making. The district must also continue to offer public school choice and supplemental educational services to all eligible students.
In Seattle, two schools were in Step 4 last year and entered Step 5 this year: Aki Kurose Middle School and The African-American Academy. These schools are under federal mandate to either close or reconstitute THIS YEAR. Last year, these schools were under federal mandate to develop plans for their closure or reconstitution. Neither school complied with the law last year, and neither school is complying with the law this year. I asked Seattle Public Schools to provide me with copies of the plans the schools developed last year and was told that their School Transformation Plans, now called Continuous School Improvement Plans, were the plans. These plans are only recently completed. I have read them, and neither of the schools' plans represent any effort towards re-constitution, let alone closure.
Both plans make only a single passing reference to the federal requirement in which they write:
Throughout school year 2008/09, we will be working with our ID and the SI Department to refine and implement a major restructuring plan in accordance with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements.
Other than this one sentence, disconnected from the rest of the plan, there is nothing resembling or referring to any restructuring at all. Nothing. By no measure can these plans be regarded as compliant with the federal law.
So what happens now? Who is responsible for enforcing NCLB? The federal Department of Education? The State Superintendent of Public Instruction? The Board of Directors of Seattle Public Schools? The Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools? Someone is supposed to enforce this law, and they have some work to do because these two schools - and the District - failed/refused to comply with the sanctions put on them last year in Step 4 by not writing restructuring plans and are failing/refusing to comply with the sanctions put on them this year by not closing or restructuring.
This is grimly serious. The District is putting all of their federal funding at jeopardy. Even more of a concern, failure to address failing schools represents a failure to assist the students enrolled in them.