On June 8th, 2023 Vanguard Academy Charter School in West Valley was removed from probation status at the Utah State Charter School Board Meeting.
Board Vice Chair Cynthia Phillips made the motion to restore good standing to the charter school. The school was placed on warning status in June of 2021 after a number of media driven investigations led the board to believe there were greater issues with the school, than what had actually occurred.
Texts and emails suggest that following the warning status, SCSB Executive Director Jennifer Lambert met with Baptist Mormon Rescue activist Tonia Tewell and Fox13 News reporter Adam Herbets in an apparent attempt to shut down the high performing charter school. Many of Lambert’s meetings with activists apparently used state resources to further their religious agenda.
In August of 2022, the school was placed on probation and Vanguard’s board was ordered to be replaced due to the members’ association with the DCCS. This move by the SCSB sparked widespread condemnation as well as a flurry of legal actions that eventually led to a partial reversal of the decision.
March 2023 SCSB Board Meeting
Vanguard remained on probation when the SCSB met in March of 2023. During the meeting, Michael Clark, a state appointed assistant director to the school, stated:
“Immediately I discovered it was a very positive culture. Students were very kind and were willing to show me where the office was… I found the administration at Vanguard to be very skilled as experts in teaching and learning. They have really created an environment and atmosphere that enables students to learn at a high capacity.”
“I spent time with every single member of the leadership staff. These are a group of people that are really dedicated to their students and to seeing their students be successful… I was very very impressed with these students… There’s no bullying…There were no fights at school…They have a genuine caring and love for each other,” Clark stated.
In response to Lambert’s allegations against the school of improper procurement and financial practices, Brad Wilkinson, a state appointed financial auditor, reported:
“I have taken a deep dive into the financials in terms of compliance…I would report to you that from that perspective, I felt like everything looked fine.”
Fox13 News reporter Adam Herbets attended the March 2023 meeting, taking notes and conducting interviews. However, neither Herbets nor FOX 13 reported anything on the positive developments for the school after a years-long campaign in an apparent attempt to smear the school and its administration. Text messages show Herbets, Lambert and religious activists in direct contact discussing matters concerning the school.
Lambert did not attend the June 2023 meeting citing, “medical reasons” and is rumored to be stepping down from her position as Executive Director.
The move to restore the school to good standing ends a years-long campaign by activists that began in the fall of 2020.
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