Fulton County votes to cut ties with another science academy charter school

8:02 PM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
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  • Fulton Science Academy High School board members
  • Fulton County School Superintendent Robert Avossa
  • Fulton County School Board
  • Fulton County Science Academy Middle School (March of 2012)
  • Fulton County Science Academy High supporters
  • Fulton County Science Academy High School website

ATLANTA, Ga. - Last month Georgia voters made it clear they favor charter schools.

So does the Fulton County School System, but on Tuesday it decided to cut ties with another charter school that it said had gone too far.

"We feel that the school can no longer meet its obligations to students as envisioned by the charter," Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer Ken Zeff told the school board about Fulton Science Academy High School.

During a five hour hearing, he and other staffers recommended the system's relationship with the Alpharetta charter school be terminated next June 30th.

It's the same fate that happened to companion Fulton Science Academy Middle School earlier this year for many of the same reasons.

Charter School Liaison Laura Stowell outlined a case of poor governance, default on a $19-million bond, students paying for core classes on line, lack of cooperation with auditors and too few students.

She and Zeff said even though the school has new leadership and new board members, they felt it was in "a hole too deep to climb out of."

"All of this comes as a bit of a surprise to this school, hearing all the hyperbole we've heard this morning about a school in downward spiral...not true," said Fulton Science Academy High School's attorney, Rocco Testoni.

Supporters pointed to the science academy's good accreditation, high scores and numerous awards.

But after hearing all the evidence, Fulton County's School Board voted unanimously to terminate the charter next summer.

Superintendent Robert Avossa said it's important that charter schools receiving tax dollars be held accountable.

"Since 2007 this district has been bringing issues and concerns to this group and they've not been resolved and so at some point we've got to take action," he added.

Faced with moving their students back into regular high schools, many science academy parents hope the State Board of Education, which has the final say on the termination, will still save their school.

Fulton Science Academy still has an elementary campus, which county school officials say they're also keeping an eye on.

No word yet on whether it could suffer the same fate as the middle and high school.

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