Education

Durham charter school will appeal State Board of Education's order to close

Posted March 8

State education board to decide fate of Durham's Kestrel Heights
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— The Kestrel Heights board of directors voted Tuesday to appeal the State Board of Education’s decision to close its high school.

Last week, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to close Kestrel Heights High School but allow the charter school to continue serving students in grades K-8.

The decision came after the discovery that 40 percent of the school’s students received diplomas that they didn’t earn in the past eight years.

The decision stated that Kestrel Heights must close its high school by July 1, but can apply to reopen in three years.

Kestrel Heights Executive Director Mark Tracy said Wednesday that the board of directors decided to ask for a review and accept terms from the state board.

The review hearing will be held based on the availability of the State Board of Education.

Kestrel Heights' new principal first discovered the diploma problem last summer. School leaders investigated further in December and found that 160 of 399 students received diplomas in the past eight years without earning all of the proper credits.

The problems stemmed from "systematic errors" by a counselor and two principals, according to school officials, who said the staffers are no longer employed. The Durham County District Attorney’s Office is working to determine whether a criminal investigation is warranted.

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