ALPHARETTA, Ga. – With time running out on the current school year, officials with the Fulton Science Academy High School (FSA HS) have asked the state to defer any decision on the school’s fate for one year while it seeks to become a state-commissioned charter school.
But officials with the Fulton School System are opposed to any action that would keep the Alpharetta-based charter school open as a locally operated school into next year.
“The Fulton County Board of Education made the difficult decision to pursue termination of FSA HS [last year, and] continued operation of the school is not in the best interest of students or the community,” said Ken Zeff, chief strategy and innovation officer for Fulton Schools. “Delaying the closure of the schools by a few months presents a hardship to the entire school community.”
Last December, the Fulton School Board voted to terminate the FSA HS charter at the end of June based on their assessment of financial and management concerns. That decision must be approved by the State Board of Education, based on a recommendation from the Georgia Department of Education, since there are still two years remaining on the school’s five-year charter.
The decision from the State Board of Education is not expected until May or June, which significantly impacts the school’s ability to make plans for the upcoming school year
Attorneys with FSA HS say the Fulton School System has not made its case that the school should cease operations, but say the relationship between the school system and the high school is permanently broken.
In a letter to the Georgia Department of Education dated April 9, FSA HS attorney Rocco Testani made the request for a one-year deferral to allow the school to apply for a charter under the newly established State Charter Schools Commission.
“It makes sense for [FSA HS] to seek a state commission charter, and to do so as soon as possible,” wrote Testani, noting the application would be submitted mid-June for an October 30 decision. “[This] would avoid extreme disruption to students, parents and staff of FSA HS who would be impacted by a potential closure…while an application was pending.”
Testani said a one-year deferral is appropriate since Fulton Schools initiated the termination action mid-year, limiting the time needed to seek other options for the school.
“This approach gives students the chance to continue at one school rather than having to make a change in the midst of their high school education,” wrote Testani.
State education officials said they were still considering the request for deferral as of the end of last week and had no comment.
Zeff said Fulton School officials are moving forward with plans to re-enroll any FSA HS students into traditional schools for next year.
“We have been in regular contact with the students and their families about transitioning to a high quality Fulton County School in their area,” said Zeff, noting the action impacts about 200 students.