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Fall River charter school demands accountability of students

Students at Argosy Collegiate Charter School in Fall River must adhere to strict protocols. (WJAR)
Students at Argosy Collegiate Charter School in Fall River must adhere to strict protocols. (WJAR)
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A group of parents is criticizing policies at Fall River's Argosy Collegiate Charter School, even though they have no complaints about its quality of education.

The group of parents reached out to NBC 10 Wednesday, with the station interviewing two of them. They said they love the teachers, and appreciate the need for discipline, but that the school takes it too far.

The middle school is, by its own admission, strict.

Students are nearly speechless when changing classes. It's just one of many strict protocols at Argosy, and one of the reasons its founder says it's raising the bar.

"We need to create a system for them, where they know what the expectations are," said Kristen Pavao, the school's founder and executive director.

Other policies include:

  • Forbidding some students from talking, or listening to music, on the bus.
  • At least a demerit for a student arriving to school with the wrong sock, or belt, color.
  • A ban on bringing water to class.

"Many of the reasons that you will absolutely love this program can also be the reasons you don't like the program. We have a lot of accountability," Pavao said.

But some parents say the policies are overbearing - claiming 6th and 7th graders are treated more like they're in the military.

"It's their way or no way. If you don't align with what they say, or if your children don't agree with it, there's no say. That's it." said parent Kymree Costa.

Perhaps the school's most striking policy, is for a certain type of in-school suspension.

Students are forced to wear a different color uniform shirt and are socially isolated from their peers. The offender spends a day banned from socializing, and is often confined to the back of any lines.

"I'm all for discipline, but discipline with limits...That's harassment. And I don't think any school...should be harassing students " said parent Ana Tavares.

But Pavao says the policy is a way to punish the student, without harming him or her academically.

Meantime, charter schools in general are mostly funded by public dollars, but they aren't overseen by school departments.

If parents don't like guidelines, their students don't have to attend, but critics of Argosy say they have little choice, because Fall River's public schools are often near the bottom of state rankings.

As for the success of the approach, the CEO of Fall River's public schools says there aren't any test scores yet for Argosy, since it's only in it's second year.

The founder claims that when she explains these policies to parents, 99.9 percent of the time, they are on-board.

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