The Missouri Charter Public School Commission has hired St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s top education adviser as its first-ever executive director. Robbyn Wahby has worked with the mayor’s office on school reform policy since 2001, when charter schools first started taking root in the city. She will start her new job in early May.
"She has an undeniable passion for quality public schools for all children,” Slay said in a written statement. “Now, cities throughout Missouri will be gaining access to a great partner at the State level in Robbyn and the Missouri Charter Public School Commission to advance their communities' interest in getting the best schools for Missouri's children."
In her new role, Wahby said she plans to encourage school leaders across the state to view charter schools as incubators for new styles of classroom instruction.
“In the end, we’re all after the same thing,” Wahby said. “I think they’re going to see that this is something they wished they had in their tool box a long time ago.”
Alicia Herald chairs the commission and echoed Wahby’s vision for more collaboration with school districts across the state.
“If we’re figuring out what works and what doesn’t work, that’s something that we shouldn’t just keep amongst ourselves in our portfolio of schools,” Herald said. “That’s something that we should really push ourselves to get out into the broader education community, meaning both charter schools and district schools.”
The commission can sponsor a charter school in an unaccredited district, such as Normandy and Riverview Gardens. It can also sponsor a charter in a district that has been provisionally accredited for three years in a row, starting in the 2012-13 school year. Although 10 other districts are currently classified as provisionally accredited, only Hayti R-II in Missouri’s boot heel would meet the three-year criterion if it fails to score above the provisionally accredited range on its state report card for this school year.
In a fully-accredited district, only the local school board can sponsor a charter school.
The commission also has responsibility for taking over a charter school if the Missouri State Board of Education rejects the authority of its sponsor.
Although the commission was created under a 2012 law that expanded the type of institutions that could sponsor a charter school, a lack of state funds meant the commission lay dormant until the fall of last year.