The state on Wednesday renewed a plan to consider shutting down a charter school for students with special needs because of concerns about safety and educational quality.
In a letter to Dynamic Community Charter School in northwest Raleigh, the state Office of Charter Schools said interviews with present and former staff members, information from a former parent and site visits led to the decision.
The information “has raised numerous concerns about the capacity of Dynamic to move forward in a way that is consistent with the law and conducive to a safe learning environment for the students,” according to the letter.
The state said its concerns include the improper development of individualized education plans, improper supervision, little to no instruction designed for certain populations, a high number of staff absences and “unsafe situations.”
“There were many instances in which students were placed or left in unsafe situations and no staff at the school intervened or redirected the students,” the letter states.
In a statement released Wednesday, schools officials said they’re surprised and saddened by the decision.
“Though the state documents concerns brought by current and former staff members, we dispute the validity and veracity of these complaints,” the statement said, adding that the school had only learned of the state’s report late Tuesday. “We are dismayed that the state has failed to give us the courtesy of a dialogue or time to answer the complaints alleged to be observed in the past week.”
At a meeting of the school’s board Wednesday night, board members raised the possibility that the school may have an easier time if it became private, but Laura Kay Berry, head of the board, said those discussions are preliminary.
The State Board of Education moved to shut down the school earlier this year because of financial and operational problems but had delayed a final vote while Dynamic attempted to make improvements and get its finances in order.
Because of the new information, the state board said it would break off those discussions and proceed with the revocation process.
A review panel will examine the school’s situation before making a final recommendation about revocation to the State Board of Education in June.
The state also accused the school leadership of being untruthful with the state, a concern that “casts significant doubt on the ability of the State Board and the Department to collaborate with the school in a mutually trustworthy relationship,” according to the letter.
Families have rallied around the school while it has been under threat of closure, saying their children are thriving. They have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past year and received an anonymous donation of $50,000 when faced with a significant budget shortfall.
In April, the school had 70 middle and high school students with disabilities including autism spectrum disorders, intellectual delays, dyspraxia, fetal alcohol syndrome and anxiety issues.