First the charter for the Fulton Science Academy Middle School was in jeopardy, and now it appears the high school is next.
The Fulton County Schools superintendent suggested the charter for the Fulton Science Academy High School should be terminated and on Tuesday, there was a hearing to see if the school board agreed.
After a long hearing with arguments from both sides, the board voted unanimously to suggest to the state that the school's charter be terminated.
But that decision didn't come easy. District staffers presented a number of red flags about the school, but attorneys for the school fired back with their own arguments.
The district presented to the board a huge binder and said was full of problems, including accountability issues, money problems and even bad attendance records.
In seven years of operation, FSA has never met an enrollment target, according to one of the district's attorneys.
Another attorney said the combination of problems was just too much for the school to overcome.
But school representatives said the numbers that the district was using were wrong and that some of its assertions were absurd. They said the reason things looked so bad was because the district is making it bad.
"What has led to any downward spiral in enrollment has been the negative publicity and attacks, the untrue attacks by Fulton County charter staff," said Rocco Testani, FSA's attorney.
But after hearing both sides, the board hammered the school, agreeing with issue after issue until it eventually voted to terminate.
"Since 2007, this district has been bringing issues and concerns to this group and they have not been resolved and at some point, we have got to take action and today was the first step," said Fulton County Superintendent Robert Avossa.
But that step came as a huge disappointment to parents.
Randall Morgan is a parent and the chairman of the FSA's school board.
"When Fulton County comes out and says they have the best interest of the students at heart, we disagree with that," Morgan said. "We're parents here, and we think we know the best interest of our students."
Deborah Ripsco's son is a junior at the school.
"As a junior, he basically has to start all over again at a new school," Ripsco said.
The termination of the charter is not final yet. Tuesday's vote was just a suggestion for the state board, which will make the final decision.
Supporters of the school said they're not giving up and plan to present the same arguments to the state, fighting until the very end.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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