Midtown Raleigh News

Advisory board recommends state shut down Raleigh charter school

A state advisory board has recommended shutting down a financially struggling charter school for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

The Charter School Advisory Board voted Monday to recommend the state revoke the charter for Dynamic Community Charter School in northwest Raleigh, a month after the panel said it would monitor the school’s budget.

The state cited problems with Dynamic’s instructional content and practices as well as its financial problems. The school’s budget shortfall is more than $250,000, according to the most recent reports given to the state.

The school is not under immediate threat of closure.

The State Board of Education will discuss the recommendation in March and vote in April. If the board agrees, Dynamic school officials would be able to appeal the decision.

Joel Medley, head of the state Office of Charter Schools, said that by starting the process now, officials avoid pushing the discussion about Dynamic into the next school year.

“The last thing we want to see happen is for the school to close in the middle of the school year,” he said.

The school opened last fall in a building that once housed a nursing home on Munford Road and had 64 students in sixth through 10th grades in December.

The state Office of Exceptional Children, which monitors education for students with disabilities, released a report Friday that said the physical environment at Dynamic is calmer and more organized than it has been in the past.

But the school has not addressed state officials’ concerns about teacher licensing, compliance with students’ individualized education plans and the scope of compensatory education that students may be entitled to because of earlier problems at the school.

Terri Zobel, lead administrator at Dynamic, said Monday’s recommendation came as a surprise, despite the problems the school has had, because school officials thought they were on the right track.

“We were shocked into silence,” she said. “We had no idea that was coming.”

The school has been under scrutiny by the state since last fall. In December, the advisory board nearly voted to recommend revoking Dynamic’s charter and asked school officials to report back on how they would solve the problems.

Then, in January, the advisory board said the school had shown improvements though it continued to face a budget shortfall. The school pledged to close the gap with expected state revenue and fundraising.

Sara Brady, head of the school’s parents association, said she expects families will continue to rally in support of Dynamic, with the hope that the threat of closure won’t discourage other families from attending.

“We are not planning on leaving the school,” she said.