This just in from the Charlotte Observer‘s education reporter Ann Doss Helms on the closing of StudentFirst Academy in Charlotte:
The troubled StudentFirst Academy charter school will close at the end of next week, parents learned at an emergency meeting Wednesday night.
That leaves almost 300 K-8 students scrambling to find schools less than two months before the end of the school year.
“I’m up in the air. I have no idea what I’m going to do,” said Jackie Davis, the parent of second- and eighth-graders at StudentFirst.
StudentFirst began as a private school in 2001 and converted to a publicly funded charter school that opened in August. It quickly fell into financial and academic trouble. Facing queries from the state Office of Charter Schools, the board fired founders Phyllis Handford and Sandra Moss, who are now suing the board.
Consultants hired to answer state questions found academic shortcomings, unopened mail, unpaid bills, overpaid and overstaffed administration and tens of thousands of dollars in spending that hadn’t been properly documented, according to reports filed in connection with the lawsuit.
The StudentFirst board told the state last month that it owed $600,000 in bank loans and unpaid bills, but assured the N.C. Charter School Advisory Board that the school had a recovery plan that would keep the school solvent through June. The advisory board was scheduled to hold a follow-up session next week to decide whether to recommend revoking the charter.
However, in a brief press release issued Thursday morning, board chair Victor Mack said the school would surrender its charter, “discontinue school services” and release all employees effective April 15. The last day for students is April 11.