RALEIGH - The state Charter School Advisory Board is recommending Kestrel Heights School in Durham close as a high school and become a K-8 facility following the report showing about 160 students, or 40 percent of its graduates, graduated over the last 8 years without earning their diplomas.
Charter Schools Advisory Board member Steven Walker said in the meeting, "I don't believe that closing Kestrel Heights is the appropriate way to go. This board, Kestrel Heights board, has no business running a high school."
The recommendation would be effective July 1. Walker read the motion for the recomendation and it was as follows: "The Charter School Advisory Board make the following recommendations to state Board of Education. That Kestrel Heights charter be renewed for a period of three years but the following stipulations. Effective July 1, 2017 the charter is amended and the grades served at Kestrel Heights school be kindergarten through eighth grade. Number two, that Kestrel Heights, at no cost to current or former students, provid in appropriate remedy to the failure to provide an appropriate education that resulted in the lack of future ready core diplomas and that the remedy may not be a Kestrel Heights designated diploma. Number three, the Kestrel Heights continue to make extensive efforts to contact all impacted former students and provide a monthly report to the office of charter schools in those efforts and the results of those efforts. Number four, that Kestrel Heights appear before the charter school advisory board every six months to update this board on its progress. And number five, that Kestrel Heights must agree during the period of this three year charter to no grade level expansion, that it would be otherwise entitled to under the laws of the state of North Carolina."
Executive Director of North Carolina Association of Charter Schools Lee Teague says, "This was very painful for them to do but they also tempered it with an understanding that the current adminsistration did what they were supposed to do once they discovered the problem." Many members of the board echoed those sentiments, saying things would be different if the school didn't self report. Charter Schools Advisory Board member Joseph Maimone said, "If they had not self reported, I think this would have been a very easy solution to say you don't deserve a charter. Your charter runs out June of 17 and you're getting closed down."
In the board's recommendation, they say the school's charter would be renewed for 3 years if it was accepted. Teague said, "We have to trust the people we work with and in this case the people who they were working with did not perform the way they should have."
Kestrel Heights Executive Director tells us there are 307 students total at the school with 73 graduating seniors. As to what will happen to the 234 students effected if the school closes Mark Tracy says, "We'll be working with families as we move forward depending on whatever decision is made either at the State Board of Education level or our own board level but of course we will work with those students and do what's in the best interest of them."
The recommendation goes to the State Board of Education who will make the final decision on what will happen to the school.