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State Recommends Denying FSA Charter

The Georgia Department of Education said Fulton Science Academy Middle School was strong on academics, but weak on everything else required.

's state charter application got a recommendation for denial from the GA Department of Education.

The school "fails to meet the standard for a high-quality charter school due to governance, financial, and accountability issues and thus does not merit a state chartered special school charter," a summary of the recommendation states.

Lou Erste, director of the department's charter schools division, said the school's attorney asked if they could submit a response to this recommendation.

What do you think of the state's recommendation? Tell us in the comments below.

The state school board will be given the school's charter petition and the department's recommendation for denial at its May 10 meeting. A decision by the state school board on the charter application is expected on June 14.

A Fulton Science Academy spokesperson said the governing board is crafting a response to the points made in the recommendation for denial.

"We like to say that the charter school is a three-legged stool," Erste said.

Academic performance, financial performance and stability, and its capacity for governance are the three legs, with legal compliance holding it all together.

"In this case the school does well on the one, but not on the other three," he said.

The state listed 11 items that were problems with the charter school.

Moving forward with site and construction plans without state approval was a problem of compliance, Erste said. But the problems go beyond just this school. Fulton Sunshine Academy and are involved because the governing board entered an agreement between all three schools in the $19 million in bond sales.

"Selling bonds and trying to buy that land without even having a charter is even more of an issue," Erste said, "because they put not only their own school at risk but the other two schools."

The recommendation said the school's governing board "jeopardized the financial sustainability of FSAMS and its two sister schools when it rushed to float $19 million in bonds despite its failure to have secured a charter renewal from FCS."

The bond rating was lowered when the the middle school made to them. A bond default could make it difficult for any other Georgia charter school to float a bond.

It's not typical to sell bonds before a charter approval.

James Drinkard, Alpharetta's assistant city administrator, said initially the bond closing was supposed to occur after the charter was finalized.

"Then they made arrangements with the bond purchasers to go ahead and do the bond closing before the charter was finalized," Drinkard said.

That closing was held before the meeting by the Fulton School Board, during which the charter renewal was denied.

"We were quite honestly a little surprised that the bond purchasers would agree to that," Drinkard said.

tom deeb May 10, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Dear Jim I could not agree more. Note that the State did not ask the Fulton County School Board to resign when it was found guilty of negligence in the abuse of special needs students. Nor did the State ask the board to resign when it was found that the principle involved was not charge with a crime and instead was allowed to retire. Nor did the state ask the board to resign when it allowed the teacher responsible for the abuse to resign. Nor did ask the board to resign when it was found out under oath that the President of the School Board had not read the internal or external reports that clearly found abuse. Nor did ask the board to resign when Fulton County lost the court case and has to pay for the education and restitution to 1 student who was abused and now has several multi-million lawsuits against for abuse of 6 special needs children. So while the FSA board has been accused of many things --- they have not broken the law, allowed criminals to go free, and pay off principles who were responsible for destroying the lives of 6 special needs children.
FSA MS and FSA ES Father May 10, 2012 at 01:24 PM
There do need to be consequences. My children and my family are suffering them right now. 2 groups failed our community, FSA MS and Fulton County Board. FSA MS Leadership will certainly suffer, as they should. Others are as well. The teachers are out of work. Parents are scrambling to find other options, especially those of us who have been re-zoned for poorly performing school. The students are paying the price more than anyone. It will be difficult to replace an environment like FSA MS. Have you ever attended an event where the student who has the highest GPA has her named chanted like she had just scored the winning goal at a football game? The Fulton County School Board failed to do their job in overseeing the School. It is their responsibility to Govern Charter schools. They failed. What consequences will they incur? They couldn't oversee this 1 school and now they are supporting every school in Fulton to go to a Charter system. They have shown they are not qualified to do Govern.
FSA MS and FSA ES Father May 10, 2012 at 01:43 PM
The Fulton County Board Charter School representative announced 1 year before the Charter renewal was submitted that there would be serious problems. You are right in saying the Fulton County board has a legal responsibility. In the private sector this type of Governance / responsibility involves ensuring issues are fixed / avoided along the way. They failed in that. They failed the taxpayers and the students. Please understand I blame the permanent FSA MS board equally, but Fulton County failed us all with their inability to perform their fiduciary duties and to adhere to their Mission Statement "Where Students Come First". Enough blame to go around for all. By the way, we received 2 letters from Linda Schulz after they denied the charter renewal. 1st letter said, do not worry we have plenty of room for your students. 2nd letter was to all North Fulton parents to discuss over-crowding of Middle Schools and it cited FSA MS’s closing as a contributor. Ignorance or duplicity, either way these folks are not fit to Govern.
fs MS PARENT May 14, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Our zoned middle school is Elkins Point.
tom deeb May 14, 2012 at 10:06 AM
FS MS Parent Many of us have Elkins Point as a Middle School --- what was once a good school has fallen far below the educational standards we expect. Year over Year decline in scores coupled with 10-years of poor if not failing leadership, under Vivian Bankston, that was supported by our School Board member has left the school in terrible shape. A terrible disservice has been done to the community by closing FSA and removing a great public school. It will lower property values. It will discourage relocation as education is the number one reason that people choose where to live. It will discourage investment in the Roswell area as why would companies want to invest in a location where schools like Elkins Pointe are the zoned schools for our area. Instead we will continue to see as an advertisement for homes and communities --- Zoned for Milton.

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