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Peoria Public Schools board votes to close Quest Charter Academy after 14 years

After 14 years in operation, Peoria Public Schools District 150 is moving to close Quest Charter Academy.

In a 5-1 vote Monday Night, the Peoria Public Schools Board of Education denied Quest Charter’s request for a five-year renewal after it failed to meet "several mutually agreed educational goals."

The meeting was the final part of a review determining whether Quest Charter will continue operating under an agreement with PPS. The charter school was previously under fire for failing to meet academic goals, as well as violating state and federal laws regarding special education.

District 150’s attorney, C. Frazier Satterly, presented data showing areas where the middle and high school under Quest fell short of its goals. That included enrollment, graduation rates, attendance, and teacher retention.

During all four years of its charter term, Quest Charter did not meet the statutory requirement that 75% of its teaching staff are certified.

Dr. Anni Reinking, the district’s vice president, voted to deny the renewal, saying when Quest Charter started 14 years ago, it was the right decision for the time and place.

“We’re not in the same place we were 14 years ago, and it appears that Quest has not grown with the times, has not shown compliance with the agreed-upon charter, and continues to do operationally and academically a disservice to the children in our community,” Reinking said.

Board member Martha Ross was the only board member who voted to support Quest Charter’s renewal application.

“As board president last year, I was concerned about what I call unrealistic goals that were set by the district for some of the requests… I always thought they were unrealistic to some degree,” Ross said.

She also raised concerns about the transition process for Quest Charter students, which superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat said is part of the next step.

Several individuals, including parents, teachers, and a student of Quest, took public comment time to support the school.

PPS's agreement with the school expires on June 30. What’s next for the 392 students of Quest would be unifying into the school district, for which Kherat said the school board already is planning.

Quest Charter Academy has the right to appeal the decision to the Illinois State Board of Education.

Mike Smith is an correspondent with WCBU in Peoria. He joined the station in 2023.