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State Board of Education Exercises Oversight, Prepares To Close Charter School

WUNC File Photo

The State Board of Education voted in its November meeting to close Heritage Collegiate Leadership Academy in Bertie County after a series of issues that the Charter School Advisory Board Chair Alex Quigley called, "a pattern of failure."

Quigley said the school had financial and academic issues and failed to meet multiple reporting deadlines. The board first discussed the school's problems in June and placed several stipulations on the school's renewal application, which it did not meet. 

The school was also the only charter school to miss the deadline to apply for its renewal. Records show Department of Public Instruction staff  made multiple efforts to seek a program compliance from the school, and it also failed to meet that timeline for correction. 

Meanwhile, Board members said they were concerned the Heritage Collegiate Leadership Academy would not be able to recover from serious financial concerns. The school over-projected its fall enrollment, which DPI uses to determine charter schools' funding allotment. The school then spent the allotment appropriate for its actual enrollment one month earlier than its next scheduled installment of funds. In response, DPI is freezing its funds until that installment.  

"We just know that it's very difficult for a school to make it through, when they have received all their cash upfront, and they now have to make changes in order to complete the year in a cash positive position," Quigley said.

The Board's vote was unanimous.

"It's always a sad day when they have to close a school," said State Board of Education Chair Bill Cobey, "But one thing we've shown as a board is we're very willing to close schools they're not measuring up."

The school's director Kashi Bazemore-Hall said in Facebook postthat she intends to appeal the decision and file a complaint with the federal office of Civil Rights.

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
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