The State Board of Education voted unanimously on Thursday to shut down a charter school for students with special needs because of concerns about finances, the quality of instruction and safety.
Dynamic Community Charter School has been under scrutiny for months. The state has said the school is failing in its duty to provide an appropriate education for students with disabilities, but many families at the school say their children are thriving like never before.
Becky Taylor, a state board member, said parents’ voices were heard, but the state had to act.
“I do think there were some great intentions and there were children who were happy there,” Taylor said before the vote. “Unfortunately, the state board is sworn to uphold the law.”
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Dynamic opened last fall and serves 70 students in middle and high school with a range of disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders, intellectual delays and anxiety issues.
It is the only charter school in North Carolina that caters solely to students with special needs.
The state has alleged Dynamic does not properly complete individual education programs for students with disabilities, does not have proper safety measures and does not offer sufficient instruction.
School officials dispute the allegations or have said the problems are paperwork issues that could be resolved.
A review panel on Wednesday recommended the state board revoke the school’s charter.
Following the recommendation, Dynamic said in a news release that the state has “persistently and actively worked to shut us down.”
“We stand by our charter school model,” school officials wrote. “However, inadequate and delayed funding, continual harassment and misinformation, and targeted discriminatory actions by North Carolina Department of Public Instruction have made it impossible to move forward as a charter school.”
The state board initiated plans to revoke the school’s charter in March, but had delayed a final vote while Dynamic tried to address the state’s concerns.
In May, officials renewed their plan to revoke the charter because of new information from a former parent and some staff members. They said the school has not been transparent in its dealings with the state.
Dynamic’s families will have to find new schools for the fall. Roughly a third of the students previously were home-schooled, a third were mainstreamed in traditional public schools, and a third were in self-contained classrooms in public schools.
The school’s statement said many parents were disappointed or alarmed by how students fared at those schools.
Bill Cobey, chairman of the state board, said the decision to revoke the charter was not an easy one.
“We wish everybody well as they go forward,” he said. “We want that to be heard, and so I hope we’re not viewed as a bunch of heartless people.”