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Parents Say Charter School Closing Was Short Notice

Tasnim Shamma

Friday was the last day of school for about 120 students at a charter school in east Charlotte. It's closing its doors less than three weeks after opening because of financial troubles. Parents will now have to figure out where to send their children next week.

Credit Tasnim Shamma
Concrete Roses STEM Academy received approval of its charter school application on January 9, 2014.

Brandy Mmanabar was picking up her son from Concrete Roses STEM Academy when the front desk staff informed her that the next day would be its last.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," Mmanabar says. "We were just in there pretty much putting our heads together. I would never send one of my children to CMS. So I have to figure out where I would send them."

Her son, nine-year-old Kenyatta Booker, describes what it was like: 

"When I got here, my friends were all 'We're all going to die!!' And the school was going to get bulldozed over. And they said, 'It's all the government's fault.' And everybody's all acting crazy and I said, 'Have faith ... maybe they won't take it down.'"
Credit Tasnim Shamma
An empty classroom at Concrete Roses STEM Academy.

But the school is shutting down. The school’s board of directors voted to relinquish the school's charter after it received a letter on Wednesday. The North Carolina Office of Charter Schools said it was putting Concrete Roses on financial disciplinary status and freezing access to funds. Director Joel Medley says it's because the school didn't provide financial reports for July and August.

"It's an anomaly. We did have two schools last year that closed during the school year," Medley says. "One closed after 10 days. That was in Kinston. And we had a school in Charlotte (StudentFirst) that closed last year in April."

Credit Tasnim Shamma
The school's principal, Dr. Marvin Bradley, says he found out about the school closing at the same time as everyone else - on Wednesday night.

And the letter states that the school was funded for the projected amount of 300 students, but it had less than half that number enrolled.

The school's principal, Marvin Bradley, says he didn't know this would lead to the school closing its doors. He found out about it on Wednesday night. Parent Alisha Bien-Aime says she's upset.

"This is short notice. What am I supposed to do in two days? I can't research another school," Bien-Aime says. "I can't go to another Charter school and say, 'Oh well how are you guys progressing? How long have you been in existence?'"

Her son, ten-year-old Nyjhol Bien-Aime, says he thinks it was a really good school and he's going to miss the friends he made.

"It makes me feel sort of mad because I mean I'm a kid who likes learning, so yeah, I think it can make me a little mad, sad," Nyjhol says. 

His mom's next stop is a bookstore. She says she's going to homeschool Nyjhol.

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