News: Quick Takes

Kestrel Heights high school decision delayed until March

Students graduated without enough credits, but State Board of Education chose not to address matter Wednesday

Students at Kestrel Heights high school are no closer to learning if their school will close, leaving them uncertain about what to do or where to go.

The North Carolina State Board of Education was scheduled Wednesday to discuss the fate of the Durham-based charter school, which is shrouded in controversy over failure to provide core academic credits to 160 of its graduates. After Kestrel parents and students waited several hours for the board to discuss a proposal to close the school, the board chose to postpone any decision until its March meeting.

The state board’s Charter School Advisory Board last year recommended closing the charter’s high school after a full audit showed 160 students graduated without enough credits to satisfy state diploma requirements.

If the high school is forced to close, roughly 350 students would have to find another school. The roughly 700 students in grades K-8 would not be affected.

The board meeting opened at 10 a.m., but it was 3:30 p.m. before the Kestrel Heights agenda item came up. Board member Becky Taylor then moved to postpone the discussion until March.

“We have received a significant amount of information from Kestrel Heights school leaders and the public, there is quite a bit to review and consider before beginning our discussion,” Taylor told board members.

“Decisions of this magnitude require serious evaluation —  [and] I know this has been given a lot of serious evaluation — but the state board wants to evaluate it also, so allowing the board another 30 days to evaluate this prior to our discussion is my recommendation moving forward,” she concluded.

The discussion and vote to postpone took fewer than four minutes.

Families and students are worried about what may happen if the school closes, said dozens of Kestrel Heights high schoolers at a Jan. 31 rally outside the North Carolina Education Building on Wilmington Street in Raleigh, where the board held today’s discussion.

If Kestrel Heights loses its high school charter, the school would be eligible to reapply for a high school after three years.