Education

Fight begins to keep Durham charter school open after diploma errors

Posted January 18

— Concerned parents and students had their chance to ask questions Wednesday night about the future of a Durham charter school.

Kestrel Heights Charter runs an elementary and middle school, but it’s their high school that could be on the chopping block}. School officials are asking everyone from staff to parents and students to do everything they can to try to save it.

The state Charter Schools Advisory Board has recommended that Kestrel Heights School in Durham close down after problems with student transcripts.

The charter school reported that 160 of 399 students graduated over the past 8 years without all of the necessary credits.

“At the end of the school year, the high school would close,” said Kestrel Heights Board President Brandon Paris

But that will not happen without a fight. The State Board of Education will ultimately make the decision, but Kestrel Heights’ leaders are counting on them to hear arguments in favor of allowing the school to stay open.

In a public meeting with parents, Kestrel Heights Executive Director Mark Tracy said school leaders found the problem, self-reported it and worked to fix it. He said an internal investigation turned up no malice or intent to change any grades.

‘It is not an excuse. It is not ok, but I wanted you to understand what the facts were,” he said. “It was a lack of attention to detail in making sure the review of those transcripts were accurate.”

Tracy hopes those facts are enough for the State Board of Education to show mercy. If not, Gina Green’s family will be affected.

Green has a student at Kestrel Heights School and said she loves the school and doesn’t want to see it go.

“When you are trying to figure out what your son, who is a junior, is going to do as he enters his senior year, that’s a great concern,” she said.

Closing Kestrel Heights School is only a recommendation and school leaders hope to formulate and propose an alternate punishment that would keep the high school open.

The State Board of Education could take up the matter at a meeting early next month.

5 Comments

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  • Roy Pine Jan 19, 2017
    user avatar

    Alternately, keep it open but fine the bejeezus out of the charter company, whatever is sufficient that they make zero profit for the same number of years as it's determined this was going on.

  • Roy Pine Jan 19, 2017
    user avatar

    Shut it down. Kudos on the new leadership for calling these matters to light, but that doesn't excuse the violations.

    It's the same warped logic behind the proposal to allow polluters to avoid fines if they self-report. Shame is no barrier in this day and age, companies (and as a charter school, they are very much a company) will happily say they violated rules all day long if it means they don't have any penalty from it.

  • Michael Bawden Jan 19, 2017
    user avatar

    So the AFAM SHAM at UNC, they cut the so called perps WITH their pensions intact and kept the program.

    At Kestrel, the bad actors are gone, so they are going to punish the new faculty and students. I am pulling for this school to remain open. The kids I know at the school would be totally ignored in public school. They would get an IEP, but that would be it. Give Kestrel a chance. What is good for UNC should be good for Kestrel.

  • Sheila Moore Jan 19, 2017
    user avatar

    Keeping track of graduation requirements for 50 students per year could be done on 3x5 cards by third graders. "Did they take English Level 1?" Third grader "Yes." Did they take English Level 2?" Third grader "No." "Write them down, sweetheart..."

  • Carl Keehn Jan 19, 2017
    user avatar

    In a public meeting with parents, Kestrel Heights Executive Director Mark Tracy said school leaders found the problem, self-reported it and worked to fix it. He said an internal investigation turned up no malice or intent to change any grades.

    When it takes over 8 years to correct a significant issue, I would say that their internal investigations weren't too effective.