Dynamic charter school loses appeal, charter
Posted June 4, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — The State Board of Education reiterated its move Thursday to revoke the charter of a Raleigh school that caters to children with developmental disabilities, citing "grave operational, financial and governance concerns."
The board first voted in March to revoke the charter of Dynamic Community Charter School. School leaders appealed, but the board held firm.
The state Charter School Advisory Board found that Dynamic had dug itself too deep a financial hole in its first year of operation to climb out.
Dynamic opened last year to serve middle- and high-school students and is the only public charter school in North Carolina exclusively for students with autism and other disabilities.
State officials have been monitoring the school for months, expressing concerns about its financial viability, and the state Department of Public Instruction gave the school a list of issues needing attention in December.
Officials said Dynamic had a $250,000 deficit by January and noted the demand on the school because of extra services it needs to provide to its students and teacher licensure issues.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who sits on the state Board of Education, said board members had to walk a fine line between meeting the needs of a special population of students while also making sure the school meets its legal obligations.
"You have to meet all those regulations. You have to do all of the above. You can't let one of those things slide," he said. "While the board is always looking and they're always weighing and they're always balancing those things, you're going to have to make sure you're on the side of the law."
The school admits a few parents have pulled their kids out of the school. WRAL News heard from some parents expressing frustrations over lack of communication and disorganization among school administrators.
Diane Morris, a parent who co-founded the school, called the state's decision tragic.
"It's like my own government has taken aim at my children," she said. "I have two boys who are in this school, and the state of North Carolina has gone after them and said, 'Your well-being does not matter to us. What you need to be successful in life does not matter to us, so we're going to close the school down.'"
School ends June 17. Morris said school officials are looking at options, including the possibility of a homeschooling co-op.
"We have kids of all skill level," she said. "We have kids like mine who don't really understand what's happening but are going to be very disturbed when August comes and they're not going back to school."
Student Bailey Gladden said after attending many different schools and not fitting in, Dynamic is like a second home.
"It's full of people like me who understand what I went through in the public school system, what it's like to feel like a freak," he said. "I am learning here."
Forest said the experience with Dynamic could lead to legislative changes.
"Part of the board responsibility is to lift up these charters, to support them and help them succeed - not just to look at them and say, 'Well, they're failing so we need to get rid of them,'" he said. "We need to say, 'What are the other funding options, how do we help, how do we make them feel better.'"