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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."

FSA MS and FSA ES Father May 10, 2012 at 04:38 PM
"Board member Linda Zechmann said parents don't seem to understand the process" We do, but we have had no voice in the process. We had no way to tell the head of the FSA MS Board to quit debating, accept all demands and suggestions from the County and State and to humbly accept the guidance and terms as presented. A shame that FSA MS, Fulton County School Board and the GA DOE all failed to keep this school open.
Parent of 2 May 10, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Outrageous to close a high performing school who if granted the charter would be able to manage their finances and payback bOnd
tom deeb May 10, 2012 at 07:00 PM
It is interesting to note that at no time did the State ever mention that this was an appeal until Lou Erste needed to pull a fast one and change the rules at the last minute. FSA Middle school was the sacrificial lamb for 1162. So now the score is one for the elected officials (1162) and one for the educational establishment (FSA). So lets keep counting and in the Fall let the people of the state decide if they want educational freedom or a continued strangle hold by the educational establishment on our future.
GDSwatcher1 May 10, 2012 at 07:19 PM
It is a shame that a failing fulton county school board which blunders at every decisiion would see a need to close a Blue Ribbon School. Now your children will again be forced to attend failing fulton county schools, be subject to crime, and be taught by less than educated teachers for the sake of money and greed. shame on fulton county and even more shame on the state of georgia.
tom deeb May 10, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Actually many of the students will not attend their local schools. You see we left the local schools because they did not serve the needs of our children. They did not deliver on excellence in education. They did not deliver on a safe environment. They did not deliver on giving our children the educational experience that we expected or demanded. I have heard from many parents and many will not be attending local schools. Several parents are thinking of moving. Several parents will send their kids to private schools. Others will home school their children. Many of us will stay at FSA Middle School as it will remain open as a private school. You see what the State and Fulton County could never understand is that we as parents made the difficult choice to send our children to FSA Middle School so that they could receive the excellent education we expect. Fulton County never understood that we left their failing education system because it did not meet our needs. Fulton County never understood that many of us will never go back. So while many at Fulton County are looking to re-integrate our students due to the high academic achievement they have attained --- guess what it is not going to happen.
Julia W May 11, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I agree, the children definately lost today, my daughter graduated middle school at FSA and my son graduates next week. They were both bullied because of there race and religion in the local Sandy Springs elementary school while the teachers and staff looked on and did nothing. The best decision we ever made was to put them into FSA which has boosted there confidence and done for them what no other local school has the inclination to do - give them a great education. It is beyond reason that FCBOE and GBOE would take the highest performing school and vote to deny the charter. When do we get to vote these self serving idiots out of office? Guess they want to bring all the children down to their level by dumbing down the education.
tom deeb May 11, 2012 at 04:21 PM
For those of you who wish to send a note to the Georgia Board of Education here are the email addresses. Louis Erste <LErste@doe.k12.ga.us>, > <ERagsdale@doe.k12.ga.us>, Helen Odom Rice <hrice@doe.k12.ga.us>, > Daniel Israel <DIsrael@doe.k12.ga.us>, Kenneth Mason > <KMason@doe.k12.ga.us>, Barbara Hampton <BaHampton@doe.k12.ga.us>, > Mike Royal <MRoyal@doe.k12.ga.us>, Wanda Barrs <WBarrs@doe.k12.ga.us>, > Larry Winter <LWinter@doe.k12.ga.us>, Brian Burdette > <BBurdette@doe.k12.ga.us>, Grant Lewis <GLewis@doe.k12.ga.us>, Allen > Rice <ARice@doe.k12.ga.us>, Mary Sue Murray <MMurray@doe.k12.ga.us>, > "jbarge@doe.k12.ga.us" <jbarge@doe.k12.ga.us>, For those who thought closing the school was good idea feel free to write and for those who felt it was bad idea feel free to write. These individuals need to hear from the community
Sadik May 14, 2012 at 05:49 AM
It is so disappointing to see a blue ribbon school closed. I do not know if county and state officials would ask for blue ribbon and plagues for their undeniable poor decisions. The decision needs to be reversed and public choice must prevail.
Interesting to see what this researcher says about Fulton Science Academy. Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGU_Y7gZctQ OR google "charters privitization of education gulen schools in the US Sharon Higgins" then fast forward to 20:08 if you only want to see the part about FSA.
MarkMunoz June 10, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Tom they have heard from the community and Wells Fargo and auditors. Stop and choose your battles wisely, you are losing credibility because of your link to Gulen's interests in Azerbaijan.

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