Carmen Brito, who was to be the La Casa de Esperanza
charter school’s principal, at the school in June. Brito
resigned Thursday, just four days before the new school’s
first year begins.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
WAUKESHA - La Casa de Esperanza Charter
School’s principal has handed in her resignation just
four days before the new school welcomes its first
Carmen Brito, who began in her position
at the school June 1, resigned Thursday, citing concerns
with the organization’s management.
La Casa CEO Anselmo Villarreal said
Thursday the school will have an interim principal in
place until a permanent one is hired. He said the school
hopes to secure a new principal as soon as possible.
“Even though this was unexpected, it is
not going to affect the school negatively,” Villarreal
said, noting the organization’s experience with
providing early childhood education.
While Brito praised the school’s
teachers, she said morale is low among the
organization’s staff. She called some her encounters
with management “demoralizing.”
She also said the school lacks direction,
evidenced by several last-minute changes as the school
prepares to begin teaching students on Monday.
Villarreal refuted both claims, saying
teachers are “extremely pleased with the model we’re
using at the school.”
“Our direction has been very clear,” he
said. “Our curriculum has been in place for months. We
have all of our staff, which is very competent. The fact
that we’re about to open on Monday is a testimony to all
the hard work that has been taking place.”
Brito said problems surfaced earlier this
month after The Freeman published an article featuring
the new school and her role as principal. The article
prompted positive comments from those outside of the
school, Brito said, but internally, she was met with
some disparaging comments.
Asked Thursday, neither Brito nor
Villarreal identified inaccuracies or concerns with the
Brito said she was sad about her decision
to leave because she believed in what the school is
aiming to do - help close the achievement gap among
Waukesha’s low-income students.
“I love the idea of the mission that I
saw,” she said. “I really believed it and am really
passionate about it. And that’s why I chose to work
Brito previously taught bilingual and
English language-learner education in the Madison
Metropolitan, Milwaukee and Burlington Area school
districts. She also taught for a few years in the
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s education department
in general and bilingual education.
Brito said her experience at La Casa has
reinforced her commitment to public education.
“You have to have real educators in
charge of education,” she said. “We need to advocate for
public education and what it was meant to be - education
for everyone. Schools should not be put in the charge of
private business people but in the charge of educators.”
Brito also raised concerns that La Casa
is being managed in a way that is too interested in
Villarreal said while donors have given
to La Casa, those funds are intended to cover the costs
of educating low-income students beyond what state
funding can provide. The school is chartered through the
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, meaning it receives
public funds, but is not associated with a public school
Villarreal stressed that the school “is
not a profit maker for La Casa and will never be a
profit maker for La Casa.”
“It will never be in the interest of La
Casa to profit from the school,” he said. “Conceptually,
it doesn’t make sense.”
This year, La Casa will enroll about 90
students to fill four classes - two four-year-old
kindergarten and two five-year-old kindergarten. Many of
those students already participate in La Casa’s early
childhood learning program.
The school plans to add classes each year
in hopes of expanding to 4K through fourth grade by its