The LeBron James-backed I Promise School received support at a meeting in Akron, Ohio, Monday night after the school was said to have delivered “discouraging” student test results.
Victoria McGee, the senior director of the LeBron James Family Foundation and the I Promise School Family Resource Center, was among those who spoke up for comment and criticized the Akron Public Schools board and called officials’ actions “detrimental” to the student body.
“Your actions degraded every Akron Public Schools educator that has ever taught the current and past I Promise students that you have singled out locally and nationally,” McGee said, via the Akron Beacon Journal. “Absolutely, it was hurtful to the LeBron James Family Foundation, but more importantly, detrimental to our students.”
McGee equated the board’s discussion with “bullying” and said it was doing damage to students who were already at a disadvantage.
School board president Derrick Hall pushed back on the criticism.
“If you go back and you actually watch the board meeting, nobody on this board, no speaker or presenter made any comments that any rational person would call belittling, bullying or anything of that nature,” Hall said.
He added there were some who were twisting the officials’ words to create “their own self-serving narratives.”
The issue stemmed from a public meeting last month, when it was revealed that this fall’s class of I Promise School eighth graders had not passed a state math exam since they were in the third grade. One official called the data “discouraging.”
The I Promise School is more unique than others across the U.S.
Children in the school have to test in the bottom 25% of reading scores in the district by the end of the second grade to get into the school, according to the Beacon Journal. The I Promise School says its mission is to “those students who are already falling behind and in danger of falling through the cracks.”
Although the I Promise School is considered a public school, it operates in partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation. The school receives identical local, state and federal funding as any other public school. The school also provides support for students and families who are struggling, including housing, food and even job training for parents.
Hall said Monday he was making sure that the school was doing its job when it comes to education.
Parents and community members who spoke at the meeting described their children as coming out of their shells and even making the honor roll in the school. They sought to nix the narrative being created around the school.
“We appreciate our community and family members having the passion to come here and advocate for their students and families,” the LeBron James Family Foundation said in a statement.