HomeNewsACE’s leader for Madison Co. had recently been hired in S. Carolina

ACE’s leader for Madison Co. had recently been hired in S. Carolina

Jackson-Madison County Classical Academy was approved in October of 2023 by the Tennessee State Charter School Commission after a hearing on Sept. 18 of that year at the Jackson-Madison County Schools Central Office.

At that meeting in September when both JMCSS and American Classical Education made their cases – JMCSS against an ACE charter school in Madison County and ACE arguing for one – Phil Schwenk, vice-president for ACE Tennessee, introduced Alexandria Spry as the head of school for JMC-ACA.

In the meeting when the charter commission officially approved JMC-ACA, they also denied an application for a similar school by ACE in Maury County.

Tess Stovall, the executive director of the charter commission who listened to the arguments for and against the charter school in Madison County, recommended approving Madison and denying Maury despite both applications were almost identical.

But there were two main reasons why she recommended Madison be approved that Maury didn’t have – a location and a head of school. The location was East Jackson because Schwenk said he was asked by JMCSS Superintendent Marlon King about possibly putting a charter school in one of the buildings at Jackson Careers & Technology or Isaac Lane Elementary.

Schwenk also said he’d heard from many families in that area of Jackson and they were all in favor of having a charter school there and would send their children to that school.

But Spry’s position as the head of school for the academy in Madison County has been brought into question.

Spry is currently listed as the head of school for Ashley River Classical Academy in Charleston, S.C. But she was also listed as the head of school there at the same time she was appearing in Jackson as the head of school for JCM-ACA.

Her presence is mentioned in the minutes of a meeting of the board of directors for Ashley River on Aug. 30. She was a part of the next board meeting in Charleston on Sept. 28.

In both meetings, Spry gave reports to the board about training she’d gone through, other Hillsdale College schools she’d visited in Cincinnati and other places to see their schools and marketing plans for the upcoming fall for the school that plans to open in 2025.

The board met again in November and was scheduled to meet again in March. In November, Spry gave more detailed updates on school policies.

The minutes of the meeting on March 6 haven’t been posted, but Spry is mentioned in the agenda with a head of school report expected to be given.

The head of school page for Ashley River said Spry is from near the area as taking the job was a return to her roots.

Patrick Whalen, the CEO of American Classical Education, released a statement late Tuesday evening:

“In 2023, ACE was working with founding groups applying to open schools in Tennessee and South Carolina. Ms. Spry was hired with the intent that she would serve as a head of school in one of those states. Following the October 2023 approval of the school in Jackson-Madison County, ACE exercised its option to defer opening the school one year. At that time, ACE informed the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission that Ms. Spry was going to help open the school in South Carolina and that ACE would begin searching for another leader for the Jackson-Madison school.”

Efforts to reach Spry in South Carolina were unsuccessful so far as well.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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