Fulton Science HS appeals to DOE to stay open

School Board to pull charter at end of the school year

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Fulton Science Academy High School officials hope an appeal to the state will keep the doors to their school open beyond the end of the current school year.

Last month, Fulton Schools voted to terminate the school’s charter on June 30, citing operational and financial deficiencies detailed in a 70-page audit performed on the school last summer. The charter high school is the sister school to the FSA Middle School which ceased operations as a Fulton charter school last year and now operates as a private school.

Although the high school still has two years remaining on its current charter, the Fulton School Board voted to end the charter prematurely after a lengthy hearing in which evidence was presented by Fulton School staff and FSA High School officials.

The final decision, however, rests with the Georgia Department of Education, which will conduct an administrative hearing based on the same evidence both sides presented during the local hearing in December.

Lou Erste, director of the state Charter Schools Division, said the Fulton County School System filed the termination petition this week within the required 30-day period, followed immediately by the request for a hearing by the FSA High School.

“A hearing officer will be assigned to conduct a paper hearing and then make a recommendation to the State Board [of Education],” said Erste.

He said he had no idea how long the process will take, or when a final decision on the fate of the FSA High School could be handed down.

Attorneys with FSA HS delivered a four-page letter to the state DOE, detailing what they believe are “insufficient factual and legal grounds for termination” of the school, which they maintain is financially sound and among the highest-performing high schools in Fulton County.

In the meantime, the Fulton School System is moving forward with plans to transition the lower classmen from FSA High School back into a traditional high school next year, if desired.

“All [FSA HS] parents were contacted by the deputy superintendent for academics in December with information regarding the various choice options available [which] includes [other] charter schools, hardship and open enrollment processes and timelines,” said Samantha Evans, communications director for Fulton Schools.

She said parents will be contacted again this month by their home school principals and given a schedule of orientation events and community activities as well as an invitation to meet with the principal to assist in the transition.

However, officials with the FSA High School hope the transition plans will not be necessary and the high school will remain open next year. A member of the governing board said parents continue to be supportive of the school.

“The new semester has started and school continues to deliver academic excellence,” said Randall Morgan, president of the FSA HS governing board. “Our parents have given great support through this time, and we all remain optimistic that this school will be open for students in the fall.”