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Charter School Closing After 20 Days. Cost To State: $285,170

Tasnim Shamma

A Charlotte charter school is closing its doors less than three weeks after opening, leaving 126 students to find a new school.

Parents of students at Concrete Roses STEM Academy got their first hint of trouble earlier this week.

"Everybody got the same call or e-mail that there was an emergency board meeting," says Shirley Brooks.

Her granddaughter, Taylor, is a fourth-grader at the K-12 school, which closes Friday.

"I had no idea that this could happen on a new school like this. I had no idea," Brooks says.

The meeting was Wednesday night. The school’s board of directors voted to relinquish their charter, 20 days into the school year. Concrete Roses’ first. When the school opened its doors, it proclaimed it was the county’s first STEM charter, meaning a focus on Science,Technology, Engineering, and Math.

The school's website promises a range of sports and internship opportunities. It turns out the school had financial problems. The North Carolina Office of Charter Schools sent Concrete Roses a letter Wednesday, putting it on financial disciplinary status and freezing its access to funds.

"They had not provided required reporting for the months of July and August," says Joel Medley, the director of the state Office of Charter Schools. "That’s a critical piece because it’s a requirement of the charter agreement."

Medley also notes the school was projected to have 300 students. At that number, the school was authorized to draw $479,084 in state funds.

But only 126 students enrolled, and according to the letter, the school withdrew $285,170. That's 42 percent more that it was allotted for that number of students.

The charter’s board of directors either did not reply or declined to comment for this story. But it’s the third North Carolina charter to close in the last two years. Medley says it's an anomaly.

"We did have two schools last year that closed during the school year. One closed after 10 days that was in Kinston. And we had a school in Charlotte (StudentFirst) that closed last year in April."

For parents, it means scrambling to find another school. Parents can either enroll students into their local public schools, or find a charter or private school that will accept them. Shirley Brooks is sending her daughter to a private Baptist school.

And teachers are out of a job.

Letter notifying Concrete Roses of financial noncompliance.