Great for some, less so for others. After three years of high school, we will be moving on for senior year, as a lot of other students have done. This year the school has become mired in challenges that have led our Junior to plead for another school. Issues include: 1. An almost complete lack of interest in STEM with no participation in GATE or the other great programs in the region. Their participation in Project Lead the Way is a joke with students often knowing more than the teacher assigned to the class. 2. Ongoing staff turnover that has led to a highly inconsistent learning and classroom environment. 3. Inexperienced staff that believe that punishment is an effective tool in modifying behavior 4. A complete lack of interest in the student as an individual. As "His Excellency" Dan Ordaz is fond of saying, "your child is only one of 500" If your child is one of those who can be driven into the mold, then this might be a great school for you. If you child is growing into a thoughtful adult and developing critical thinking skills, they will have a hard time with the authoritarian and hypocritical discipline.
At the end of the semester, the administration had lost control and was forced to open the gym at lunch to accommodate the more than 10% of the population that was on detention.
On detention for what?
Lots of dress code violations such as wearing a charcoal grey sweater rather than a black one.
Others for being disrespectful or "defiant".
Students were given arbitrary discipline with no chance of appeal by "campus supervisors" who themselves failed to meet the dress code.
English teachers who force students to write to local politicians to reinforce the teacher's crypto-liberal beliefs and who punished students who refused.
And let's not forget that the Executive Director employs several of his family members at the school, so the politics are toxic.
Along with a lot of the senior class of 2016, our student elected to leave this mess behind and finish high school elsewhere.
Sadly, what started out as a great possibility for a school is going down the drain
There was a parent post a year ago that stated there is no funding in this charter for students with disabilities. That may have been relayed by the school, but a quick call to The Office of Civil Rights will correct that misconception. Charters are public funded. Under FAPE, and IDEA, schools cannot discriminate. Regardless of disability, ALL students are equally allowed a free, public education. There IS funding available for ALL assistance if a need is shown. UPA may not necessarily want to tell you this so there academic rates remain high and consistent, but under the law, you can request, and receive, any supports deemed necessary for your child to succeed at a level accustomed by their peers. Sometimes you have to fight for what your child needs. UPA is a very challenging school, but they cannot legally turn away students because of disability.
As a graduate of this school that attended this school from it's opening day until my graduation day, and as an alumnus that has continued on as a college student, and as a member of the staff of this school's parent organization, I can say from personal experience that this school is a great concept that is growing to it's potential.
Wonderful School! I truly love sending my kids there and they love going there too! If they went to a public middle or high, they wouldn't be as happy and neither would be me. In UPA, everybody gets along with each other and I have NOT heard of any bullying going on. This school provides everything you need, be it counseling, helpful teachers, etc. UPA is sure to not disappoint! Parent involvement is great, parents have to do 60 hours of community service per school year! I would recommend this school to anybody!
If you are heading to high school and are looking at an alternative to the public schools in the area and you have a student who wants to get into college, UPA is worth a look. There are also a number of things that I wish we had better understood on the way in. These include: - This school is run by the Ordanz family and you need to be very careful of crossing any of the family members. His Highness Dan is the Executive Director and truly has little time for the little people (like parents). - Dan's wife and son are also employed by the school and the son in particular tends to throw his weight around - This is NOT a school for super achievers. There is no GATE programming, and little interest in doing anything that Dan Ordanz did not come up with himself. - This is a school for the average to slightly above average kid who wants to get into college and the school has an excellent track record there. The school has more interest in athletics than in any of the serious extra-curricular STEM activity. No participation in MakerFaire, GATE, Tech Challenge or other STEM type activitys.