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State closes new charter school

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Friday, December 7, 2018

Nash County’s newest charter school will be closing its doors soon.

The state Board of Education on Thursday formerly rejected Global Achievers School’s appeal to halt the revocation of its charter from the state. The school, which opened in August, was notified in November that its charter had been revoked by the state because it did not have at least 80 students, the minimum number required by the state.

The school decided to appeal the decision and that appeal was heard by a three-person review panel on Tuesday. Amy White, chairwoman of the Education Innovation and Charter Schools Committee of the state Board of Education, announced the result of that review at Thursday’s meeting of the state board.

“In short, the finding and recommendation of the review panel was that, unfortunately, the school does not meet the statutorily required minimum and consequently the school does not comply with the law or with its charter agreement as submitted,” White said. “The review panel articulates concerns not only about this but also has concerns about the some of the school’s finances and its facilities and so we are recommending that the board uphold its previous decision.”

On Oct. 8, Lisa Swinson, the head of Global Achievers School, appeared before the the state Charter School Advisory Board to answer questions about the school’s status. Swinson told the board that the school had 103 completed student applications prior to the opening of the school and that 93 students had confirmed that they planned to attend the first day.

But a series of legal and financial complications intervened to force the school to move from its intended permanent location in Spring Hope to the location of the former Falls Road Baptist Church School in Rocky Mount, moving it out of the southern Nash County area proposed in its charter application to the state. The move also caused the number of students at the school to be reduced to 60. Three more students were enrolled since the school’s move, Swinson told the committee.

Swinson said the school had executed an aggressive marketing plan to attract students and hoped to have 80 students by December. However, that increase did not occur.

In October, the school had 63 students, four teachers, a lead teacher, a principal and several support staff members, Swinson said.

Some of the members of the committee stated that they had originally recommended that the school delay opening for one year until it had a stronger plan but that advice had not been taken. They also expressed frustration at being forced to make a decision that would send students scrambling for a new school in the middle of the school year.

“This board has not ever closed a school we voted to approve and we are concerned about what to do in this situation,” an unidentified committee member said in an audio recording of the October committee meeting.

Neither Dave Machado, director of the state Office of Charter Schools, nor Swinson returned repeated requests for more information on Thursday. But in an earlier interview, Machado told the Telegram that the school would have roughly 30 days to close its doors once the appeals process ended.

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