An appeal to keep Durham’s Kestrel Heights High School open has failed.
The State Board of Education unanimously denied the appeal Thursday, ordering the school to close at the end of the academic year after it awarded diplomas to students who didn’t meet state requirements for graduation. The board had issued an order March 2 for the high school to close, but officials appealed that decision.
Kestrel Heights, a public charter school, has been under scrutiny since an internal investigation found that 160 of the school’s 399 graduates since 2008 didn’t meet the state’s requirements for a high school diploma.
Kestrel Heights leaders have blamed two former principals and a former school counselor for awarding the unearned diplomas.
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The current high school principal, April Goff, has been credited with discovering the problem with Kestrel Heights transcripts as 2016 seniors prepared to graduate last June.
The discovery led the school’s leadership to report the findings to state officials.
The school’s elementary and middle schools will be allowed to continue operating, but the state board ordered Kestrel Heights to appear before the Charter School Advisory Board every six months to provide an update on its progress.
As part of the board’s decision, the school must agree not to add high school grades for at least three years or risk losing its K-8 charter.