Thursday, December 2, 2021

NC Charter Board Recommends Durham High School Close After Diploma Problems

— The state Charter Schools Advisory Board recommended Wednesday that Kestrel Heights charter school in Durham close its high school effective July 1 and only continue serving students in grades K-8.

That recommendation now goes to the State Board of Education, which will make the final decision about the school’s fate.

Kestrel Heights reported this week that 40 percent of its graduates – 160 of 399 students – received diplomas in the past eight years without earning all the proper credits. The school said a counselor and two principals who were working at the time “are no longer employed.”

The problems stemmed from “systematic errors” by the former employees, according to the school’s Executive Director Mark Tracy. He said he does not believe their actions were “willful, intentional or done with malice.”

Kestrel Heights was up for a 10-year renewal of its charter, but the advisory board recommended Monday that the school’s K-8 grades only be renewed for three years.

The chief of the state Office of Charter Schools said Wednesday that Kestrel Heights’ diplomas problems are “unacceptable” and said the state is continuing to monitor them. He said his office found other problems with the school during a site visit in 2014. The school failed to list all of its students in the state’s student database and was warned about the importance of testing accountability, he said.

Kestrel Heights’ new principal discovered the diploma problem in July, shortly after she took the job. The school began investigating and reported the issue to the state’s Office of Charter Schools on Oct. 5.

Since the discovery came to light, officials at Kestrel Heights have reached out to affected students by certified mail. They sent an initial letter to inform students that there is a potential issue with their transcript. They followed up with two more letters if the students didn’t respond.

The affected students missed one or more mandated courses, including American History II, English 3 and 4, Math 4, World History, Physical Education, Earth Science, Physical Science, Algebra 2, Geometry, Biology, and Civics, according to the school.

The State Board of Education recommended last month that the Durham County District Attorney’s Office determine whether a criminal investigation is warranted.

,The state Charter Schools Advisory Board recommended Wednesday that Kestrel Heights charter school in Durham close its high school effective July 1 and only continue serving students in grades K-8.,The state Charter Schools Advisory Board recommended Wednesday that Kestrel Heights charter school in Durham close its high school effective July 1 and only continue serving students in grades K-8.

A special thank you to our friends at WRAL for helping out with this post.

Check Also

Citizen Issue Reported: Pothole

Wake Forest Issue Reported on Thu, 02 Dec 2021 13:58:42 -0500: Pothole at Address: 1424 …