William Jennings is finishing the sixth grade at Dynamic Community Charter School. His mother attributes his improvement in self-esteem and his academics to his year at DCCS. The Raleigh public charter school serves middle and high school children with disabilities.
The State Board of Education unanimously voted on June 4 to revoke the school’s charter after DCCS had been open for one year.
Vanessa Jeter, spokeswoman for the Public Schools of North Carolina, said the decision does not mean the revocation is final.
“It’s important to note that distinction,” Jeter said. The school has the option to appeal within 60 days.
The allegations against DCCS include issues in the creation of students’ IEPs — documents that list goals for the students’ academic and social development.
The report put together by the Department of Public Instruction after multiple announced and unannounced visits mentions concerns with teachers’ licensure, a lack of supervision, safety, curriculum and general chaos.
Parents, faculty and administration feel they haven’t been given a fair shot at explaining themselves.
Sara Brady, president of the DCCS Parents’ Association, said the department’s visits left an emotional toll on the children.
“It’s been an incredible amount of stress. These kids have left school crying after these visits,” Brady said.
More than 30 parents, teachers and administrators gathered Monday night to discuss their next move.
Appealing to the state’s revocation, as Laura Kay Berry — chairwoman of the DCCS board of directors — explained, will take resources that the board can’t fund alone. Parents said that they would do what they can to help.
“At the end of the day, the state’s going to turn around and say, ‘The reason that the school is closing is because we failed to serve your kids,’” Berry said. “And for that, I am truly sorry.”
The school’s board of directors will vote next Monday on whether or not to appeal.
The school year has been filled with tension between the school and the State Board of Education, which intensified in the spring, Joy Jennings said.
The board initiated the revocation process on March 5, but it later reached an agreement with the school in April. Due to multiple financial and compliance concerns, the revocation process restarted in May.
Joy Jennings said the unity between the school and parents through the ups and downs says something.
“How many times have you heard the stories of parents united by a school banding together to fight — but fighting with the school as opposed to against it?” she said.
Brady said her son, Bailey Gladden, a ninth grader at DCCS, has benefited from an environment separate from traditional public schools — where she said her son was bullied. After two hospitalizations within 18 months due to suicidal thoughts and tendencies, Brady removed her son and looked for other options.
“It basically stemmed from the fact that he had no friends,” she said. “He felt harassed all the time. He felt like his teachers had really let him down.”
Jeter said whether or not a student needs a separate setting is their parents’ concern, not the state’s.
Looking ahead, discussions of a home schooling co-op or just regular play dates have begun among parents.
“Whether or not the charter remains in place, this community will stick together,” Brady said. “No matter what happens, I know that my son has made friends.”