The future of Kestrel Heights High School is on hold for a month while the State Board of Education reviews information from the school, students and the public.
The board unanimously voted Wednesday to postpone action until March 1-2. At those meetings the board will discuss and likely vote on recommendations that include closing the charter school’s high school for at least three years following the discovery that 40 percent of its 399 graduates from 2008-16 had not completed the required credits.
“Of course a decision of this magnitude deserves serious evaluation,” Board of Education member Becky Taylor said.
School officials hope they will be able to keep the high school open, Kestrel Heights executive director Mark Tracy said.
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“We do want to do right by our students. We want to do right by our community,” Tracy said. “I think with the changes that have already occurred in our organization we will be able to do that.”
The state Charter School Advisory Board recommended last month that the 18-year-old charter school close its high school this summer and remain a K-8 school for at least three years.
The school’s charter expires this year, and it was being considered for a 10-year renewal. Last year the school self reported concerns about graduates missing credits. An audit revealed that about 160 students didn’t have enough credits to graduate. The missing courses included math, English, American history and physical education.
Kestrel leaders, parents and students have defended the school, saying officials self-reported the issue, worked with affected students and made changes to make sure it doesn’t happen again. They also say the guidance counselor and principals responsible for the problems no longer work at the school. Students and parents say they like the small high school environment and don’t want to make the shift to a new school in the middle of their high school experience.
The school has about 350 high school students and about 1,020 students total. The high school employs about 26 teachers.
School officials plan to use to the extra time to continue to reach out to affected graduates and educate currents students, Tracy said.
“We will work very closely with the State Board of Education to make sure that they know that we have made significant changes in our organization, and this will never happen again at Kestrel,” Tracy said.