State Board Denies Fulton Science Academy Middle School Charter
Board members criticize the school's Governing Board and management over noncompliance, bond issues.
Fulton Science Academy Middle School lost its appeal to the state Board of Education for a charter this morning, so the school will be closed in July.
The school's charter through Fulton County Schools expires June 30.
Angela Lasseter, a representative of the school's Governing Board asked the state board to wait 30 days to make their decision so all the information could be heard and documents read.
"It impacts so many of our parents, including me. "Hearing both sides and all of the documentation is critical to making an informed objective opinion," she said.
But the board members said Department of Education staff have been working with the school's administration for months, ever since the December 2011 charter renewal application denial by Fulton County. Another 30 days won't change the facts.
The school's governance and financial stability were called into question, particularly regarding the issuance of $19 million in bonds and the construction work on a new school campus.
State Board Member Dan Israel said even though bond documents say the state, county and city aren't liable for anything doesn't mean they can't be sued.
"It's not just looking at Fulton Science Academy in isolation. This has precedence for what we do for other charter schools that come behind," he said.
If the state board approved this charter, the next school to come before them with bonds already issued would point to Fulton Science Academy and expect its charter also to be approved, Israel said.
Board member Linda Zechmann said parents don't seem to understand the process.
"The Fulton Science Academy Governing Board and school management have acted during the past five months as if the state charter process is an opportunity for them to strike a deal so they can have a charter. The state charter process is instead an appeal by the school to the state," she said.
The school is asking the state to overturn the Fulton County School Board's charter denial because it was not properly considered. But that's not what the state found, Zechmann said.
"Thirty more days won't change a thing," said Board member Brian Burdette. "They had the opportunity to work with the department and that didn't happen."