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I-TEAM: Catapult Academy will not return to Duval County

Jacksonville for-profit charter school, DCPS mutually decide to end relationship

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A charter school aimed at dropout prevention will not return to Duval County next year.

Duval County Public Schools officials and leaders of Catapult Academy mutually decided to end their relationship, DCPS spokeswoman Laureen Ricks confirmed Tuesday to the News4Jax I-TEAM.

The for-profit learning center's contract with the school district will end Aug. 31.

Catapult Academy had seven satellite locations spread across Jacksonville to cover all neighborhoods. 

The academy helped the district reach out to students ages 16 to 21 who’ve dropped out, with the goal of helping those students earn their high school diploma. 

The school served students who had dropped out of traditional public school.

In a message sent to parents, and obtained by the I-TEAM, DCPS officials said:

Catapult’s local operations will not be available to students next school year -- 2018-2019.

"While the contract is coming to a conclusion in August, Catapult and Duval Schools are working collaboratively to ensure the best possible transition for students to a program that will enable them to continue their successful progress to high school graduation. 

"You should receive a letter in the next couple days that will give you details on two, full day, drop-in re-engagement sessions that we are hosting to help students transition to another high school completion program. The sessions are scheduled for Monday, June 25 and Tuesday, June 26.”

News4Jax spoke with students and parents in May who said the program was good for their education.

“This program means so much to me because it fluctuates with my schedule, because I’m about to start work,” 19-year-old student Johnathan Smalls said.

Smalls' mother, Shirley Smalls, said her son is adamant about completing the program, which awards a high school diploma rather than a GED.

“I like the program because I can kind of go through credits and get caught up,” 17-year-old student Damien Caoteo said.

Caoteo's stepfather said the classes have made a difference in Caoteo's education.

“He’s passing all his classes with flying colors,” Harvey said. “He enjoys it here.”

Parents or students with concerns can call DCPS’s  Dropout Prevention Office at 904-924-3722, extension 257, or email Terri Jones at jonest7@duvalschools.org


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