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State refuses charter petitions to Fulton Science Academy, Sunshine Academy


Schools failed to follow rules to become state chartered



August 06, 2013
ATLANTA – Officials with Fulton Science Academy High School (FSAHS) are undaunted by the recent rejection of its application to become a state commissioned charter school, noting the outstanding issues are in the process of being resolved. But state officials say they missed the boat for this school year.

FSAHS and its elementary counterpart, Fulton Sunshine Academy, had sought to become state charter schools for the 2014-2015 school year, allowing the schools to move out from under the direction and control of the Fulton County Board of Education.

However, officials with the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia (SCSC) said the applications were not submitted in accordance with state law, and could not be considered in the 2013 Charter Petition Cycle.

The July 25 SCSC letter noted both schools were required to receive a waiver from their existing authorizer – in both cases the Fulton School Board – prior to submitting a petition to become a state charter school. Both schools are currently under a charter agreement with Fulton Schools through June 30, 2015, although Fulton is seeking state approval to terminate the charter of the high school.

"I understand this will be disappointing to you and your stakeholders, but the SCSC encourages you to submit a revised petition in a subsequent petition cycle," wrote Bonnie Holliday, executive director of the SCSC.

The SCSC was formed last year after the passage of a constitutional amendment allowing the state to approve charter schools without the approval of local boards of education. The commission had existed previously and had approved 14 state charter schools before being struck down as unconstitutional. Last year's vote allowed the commission to re-form.

Despite the ruling from the SCSC, officials with the Fulton Science Academy High School say they don't believe the decision is final, and are working to resolve the outstanding issues.

"First of all, this is not a final decision," said Principal Namik Sercan of FSA HS. "We are working on it with Fulton County [schools] and the state. This is not an appeals process, but the issue will be resolved."

However, a spokesperson for the SCSC said the decision, at least for this cycle, has been made.

"The petition for the Fulton Science Academy High School will not be considered as part of the State Charter Schools Commission's 2013 Petition Cycle for the reasons outlined in Ms. Holliday's letter," said Gregg Stevens, general counsel and petitions manager for the SCSC.

He added the commission is currently exploring options for existing charter schools that wish to apply to the SCSC to do so without a waiver, but that process has not yet been developed.

"I anticipate having a process in place at some point during the 2013-2014 school year, but I cannot guarantee when the process will be finalized or implemented," said Stevens.

This latest action continues the roller coaster ride taken by the FSA HS over the past year. The school has been beset by low enrollment numbers since opening eight years ago, and came close to shuttering six years ago before it stabilized its finances. Last winter, the Fulton County Board of Education voted to terminate the school's charter with two years remaining in the charter, citing financial and organizational concerns.

After months of review by the state Department of Education, during which time its prospects for opening for the 2013-2014 school year were questionable, the decision was returned to Fulton Schools for further review.

While the school is now legally allowed to open next week for the school year, it is unclear how many students will return, or if the school is able to attract enough new students to viably function.

Sercan said last week he does not have firm numbers of enrollment for the new school year, but was pleased with the numbers. The school held two Enrollment Open Houses and marketed the school heavily to rising freshman. Last year, the high school ended the year with approximately 250 students.

"I am very pleased [with our enrollment]," said Sercan. "There has been a good rate of returning student and new students as well."

Officials with the Fulton School System have been quiet on any plans for FSA HS for the coming year from their end, noting only the issue is being explored by their attorneys. The system had not planned on FSA HS being open for the 2013-2014 school year and had re-enrolled most of the school's students into other schools.

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Tags: Education News & School Sports

  1. report print email
    Politics and Bureaucracy before Students
    August 07, 2013 | 09:29 AM

    Again GA politics get in the way of parents and students exercising their supposed right to school choice.

    The Charter Commission really wants FSA Elem and HS Charter Schools to get a waiver from a County School Board that doesn't want them to exist in the first place? A School Board that is willing to go to any lengths to close charter schools that are outperforming their traditional county schools. Wow! Like that is probable.

    The Charter Commission is there to protect the right to school choice, not to erect barriers that are impossible to overcome. Sad!

    On another note, IF enrollment is down at the high school it would solely be the fault of the Fulton County Board of Ed. They prematurely, without credible evidence, and without a confirmed decision told everyone that they were closing FSA HS.

    They transferred student information and their records to other schools without parent permission and sent out letters to ALL parents informing them of the school closure, even though the decision had not been made. It is not in their power to close a charter school. That right lies solely with the State Board of Ed.

    Additionally, they even provided their PTSA's with our personal information, so that they could contact us. Can we say FERPA violation? Well, it definitely would not be the first time for that!

    Further, the Fulton County Board of ED and their superintendent continually informed the press and gave the impression to existing parents and new applicants that the school would not reopen this year. They went so far as to initiate a process to try and close the school WITHOUT HAVING ANY CREDIBLE EVIDENCE! These were the words of the Sate Board of Education, not mine. They are capable of ANYTHING!

    IF the school has low enrollment and I am not saying that it will, then you can place all the blame, 100 percent, on Fulton County. It sure will not be results, because FSA High outperformed the State and Fulton County in every area. I believe that they even outperformed North Fulton High Schools in all but one EOCT area and their average overall is highest among North Fulton Schools. Further 100 percent of FSA HS students passed AP language, history, and calculus.

    This year all FSA HS students will even receive new laptops. The school has moved forward, added more AP classes and completed renovations to the school, in the best interests of its students. It persevered through the process and kept its head up. IT IS OPEN, regardless what Fulton County says!!!!!!

    I really hope that parents elect to register at this top performing North Fulton School.

    It is small, safe, and has uniforms. Many classes have only 15 or fewer students. This provides for more individualized teaching and leads to greater student achievement as their results clearly show. Its robotics and tech teams are OUTSTANDING! This is definitely a school for math and science minded students that are college bound.

    The Georgia State Department of Education released the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), and FSA High School received one of the highest scores, among not only Fulton, but North Fulton High Schools. FSA 87.2, N. Fulton Schools 84.6, Fulton County Schools 73.9. That alone should send you running to enroll at FSA HS.

    Again, FSA HIGH SCHOOL IS OPEN! ENROLL and take advantage of excellence!




    Angela Lassetter
    Milton
  2. report print email
    Gulen operated school should send you running away
    August 10, 2013 | 09:28 PM

    This person above posting has no idea why we kicked these people out of Turkiye and why we have protests.

    I doubt if they are as high performing as stated above and furthermore. We in Turkiye know that these Schools are operated by the same group that has schools worldwide.
    Maybe this Amerikan Gavur who is a cheerleader for this Cult, should open her eyes and ears before her uninformed mouth.

    http://georgiacharterschooldisgrace.com/2013/06/21/fsa-high-school-open-or-closed/

    If you are not closed this year, you will be in 1 years time. That is if the FBI of your country doesn't round up this organized crime before hand.

    Keep praiser this school, it won't matter shortly. Soon as we take back our country I am sure the Amerikans will take back theirs from these parasites.

    Ahmed
    Istanbul
  3. report print email
    Gulen operated school should send you running away
    August 10, 2013 | 09:29 PM

    This person above posting has no idea why we kicked these people out of Turkiye and why we have protests.

    I doubt if they are as high performing as stated above and furthermore. We in Turkiye know that these Schools are operated by the same group that has schools worldwide.
    Maybe this Amerikan Gavur who is a cheerleader for this Cult, should open her eyes and ears before her uninformed mouth.

    http://georgiacharterschooldisgrace.com/2013/06/21/fsa-high-school-open-or-closed/

    If you are not closed this year, you will be in 1 years time. That is if the FBI of your country doesn't round up this organized crime before hand.

    Keep praiser this school, it won't matter shortly. Soon as we take back our country I am sure the Amerikans will take back theirs from these parasites.

    Ahmed
    Istanbul
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