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Head Of Legacy Preparatory Speaks On School's Sudden Closure

Legacy Preparatory School

Officials with Legacy Preparatory School in east Charlotte abruptly announced that the private school will close for good just a few days before students were set to begin the spring semester this week. Parents received an email from school officials at the end of last week informing them of the closure. Principal Stacey Rose, who owns the school with her husband, says it was a matter of not having financing to stay open.

Stacey Rose: We just couldn't keep going. I know a lot of the contention has been, 'Why did you wait for the last minute?' Because we really were waiting for the last minute to see if a miracle or something would come out of this. When we realized there was nothing we could do,we made the call to close the school. We were out of funds in December. So I paid our staff personally.

Gwendolyn Glenn: Legacy Preparatory School, which takes up an entire floor of the Park Expo and Conference Center next to Bojangles Coliseum opened this year. Tuition was $5,000, but Rose says about 98% of the students received $4,800 scholarships. Legacy replaced a charter school the Roses ran in the same location for five years, the Charlotte Learning Academy. That school served low-income students who struggled in traditional school settings. Its charter was not renewed in March by state officials because of students’ consistent low test scores on state exams and an F grading from the state since it opened.

Rose: So at that time when they closed, we had someone come forward kind of investor wise and also mentor wise. Like, 'this is a great opportunity may be for y'all to go private. You already have the building and you already have the kids.' You know, that sort of thing. So the board now and I, we were discussing it. Most of our students qualify for the Opportunity Scholarship. But that's $2,400 a semester per kid and not enough to sustain an operating budget of a full school. So we were concerned about that. And he was like, no, I can get the donors. This is what I do, you know, and convinced us of all that. Okay, let's move forward. So we met with all our parents. They were happy we were trying to figure out an option.

Glenn: At the same building?

Rose: In the same building, you know, it was just kind of a smooth transition over into the private school. And we still offer transportation and we still offer breakfast and lunch. And I would say maybe about a month ago the donor or investor was like, 'yeah, I don't know why it is so hard. Usually, I'm able to do this. Sorry. Just sorry.'

We put out some feelers. We have stuff out there and reaching out to, I mean, United Way, we're reaching out to everyone and anyone in the community that can possibly help us and want to be an investor or a supporter of the school to keep us, you know, open, to give us the time to actually go out and find people who will invest and want to be a part. And it just didn't come about. 

Glenn: And any reason why you guys just depended on that one person, had he or she come through for you before?

Rose: No, but he was very credible in his position and what he's done in the past. And we just kind of trusted in that. And I do blame myself completely for putting 100% of my trust into somebody when I probably should have been working on Plan B regardless. 

Glenn: How many students did you have? 

Rose: 160. 

Glenn: 160. Any idea what's happening with them now that you guys are closed?

Rose: A lot of them have been up here today, a lot of parents. We expected that. Not so much to pick up records because we actually emailed every parent, every child's record so they can have it. But to get that last hug and a lot of kids have been up here today, a lot of tears, a lot of sadness, but a lot of them are already making plans. I’m actually in the process of working on an email. I have about 10 schools on it that's going out to the parents of people who have contacted me. So I've been in contact with other schools willing to help and take in the babies. But a lot of them are already going back to their home schools, a lot are going to other charters, or other private schools, but I've been reached by a plethora of schools. Some of them met us here this morning, you know, trying to get their information in so they can help and the kids can transfer over easily.

Glenn: And what's next for you guys? Do you plan to try to get the school going again or is this school dead?

Rose: You know what? I honestly cannot answer that. I am so focused right now on just my kids, my teachers making sure everyone is good and doing what I can. I have no idea what I'm doing next. The school will be done. It's all so much and happening so fast. And right now, I'm just trying to make sure my teachers and babies are okay.

Glenn: Stacey Rose is the principal and co-founder of the private Legacy Preparatory School.