Alternative education at PACE Academy will get a second chance — which means several changes for the school in August.
PACE is a charter school in Carrboro serving kids with all kinds of alternative learning needs, from minor cognitive impairments that require one-on-one attention to problems with concentration and assimilation in typical public schools.
As of June 27, the N.C. State Board of Education agreed to renew PACE's charter for another three years — three days before the school's doors were set to close permanently.
"I think the most important thing for people to know is that we're open, and we're excited, and we're accepting applications for this coming year," said Jamie Bittner, PACE's transitions coordinator.
The Board of Education voted not to renew PACE's charter in February after the Office of Charter Schools discovered the school had several non-compliance issues, including not testing enough of its students, not increasing enrollment and not showing enough growth by North Carolina's test performance standards.
The school filed a petition contesting the board's decision, citing school administrators were willing and had begun to solve the problems the Office of Charter Schools had brought to light. PACE also claimed the Office of Charter Schools failed to communicate effectively with the school about those problems throughout the renewal process.
Joel Medley, director of the Office of Charter Schools, said that complaint did not contribute to the decision to renew PACE's charter.
"Did we provide them with information that they were non-compliant? Yes. Did they know the areas in which they were non-compliant? Yes," he said. "Where did we get this information? From (PACE's) audits. Who pays for the audit? The school does. All we did is analyze the audit."
Medley said anytime a school's charter is not renewed and a petition is filed to contest the non-renewal, the first step is for the Board of Education and the board of the school to sit down and have an informal discussion.