Magic City Acceptance Academy

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Magic City Acceptance Academy (MCAA) is a planned charter high school sponsored by Birmingham AIDS Outreach as part of its mission to provide free services for LGBTQ youth. The school would provide a standard high school curriculum while fostering an environment free of bullying, which is a major factor in limiting educational opportunities for LGBTQ students. Straight "allies" would also be welcomed at the school. The curriculum will would implement trauma-informed teaching strategies to facilitate learning.

Michael Wilson was hired as principal for the planned school, which anticipated opening in August 2021 with about 250 students.

Approval

The Birmingham Board of Education, which generally opposes charter schools, denied the group's application in January 2020. The Alabama Public Charter School Commission, which has frequently overruled local boards, voted 6-2 to deny a charter for the Academy.

The Academy then made plans to open in Homewood. Since Homewood City Schools, unlike Birmingham, plays no role in authorizing charter schools, the application was made directly to the state commission.

In their September 10, 2020 meeting the application got 3 affirmative votes and 1 vote against, with four abstentions. Since the application did not receive approval from a majority of the eight members present, it was effectively denied. Chair Henry Nelson requested a re-vote, but the motion failed. The commission did take up the motion again on September 17. Once more it failed to gain a majority, by a vote of 4 in favor, 3 against and 1 abstention, and was therefore denied.

MCAA petitioned for a re-hearing on the grounds that sufficient reasons for rejecting their application had not been furnished. A fourth vote was held on November 4. The schools application was approved then with 7 yes votes, 1 no, and 1 abstention from the 9 members present.

References

  • Dunigan, Jonece Starr (April 25, 2019) "Group wants to open LGBTQ-focused charter school in Birmingham." The Birmingham News
  • Dunigan, Jonece Starr (May 12, 2020) "Alabama’s 1st LGBTQ charter school denied state-level appeal." The Birmingham News
  • Crain, Trisha Powell (September 10, 2020) "Alabama’s LGBTQ charter school denied again by state commission." The Birmingham News
  • Crain, Trisha Powell (September 18, 2020) "Alabama denies LGBTQ charter school again, supporters claim bias." The Birmingham News
  • Crain, Trisha Powell (November 4, 2020) "Birmingham LGBTQ safe space charter school approved for 2021 opening." The Birmingham News