Saturday, April 13, 2002

Dayton charter school likely history

Lawyer: Urban Academy probably won't reopen

The Associated Press

        DAYTON, Ohio — It is unlikely the Dayton Urban Academy will reopen even if it persuades a judge to block the state order that closed the charter school, the school's lawyer said.

        “From a pragmatic standpoint, it's going to be difficult to recover,” attorney James A. Greene III said Thursday. “How do you make the kids come back? How do you restore the confidence of parents and teachers?”

        The operators of the charter school and one in Cleveland filed a $100 million federal lawsuit Tuesday against the state. The lawsuit alleged racial prejudice, saying the state took a hard line with the schools in part because their operators are black and Muslim.

        The lawsuit also said the state violated its contract with the International Preparatory School in Cleveland by refusing to resolve a funding dispute through binding arbitration.

        Thursday, state education officials agreed to allow the Cleveland charter school to delay repayment of more than $777,000 in tax dollars it was overpaid during the last two years.

        State officials say the school overestimated its enrollment. To recoup the overpayment, the state had cut the school's monthly payments from $280,000 to $7,760.

        Under a new payment plan that will begin in July, the state will reduce payments to the school by $32,000 a month for the next two years, assuming the school stays open.

        Meanwhile, Dayton Urban Academy had 56 students as of last week, down from 99 at the start of the school year. Most have found a place in other schools, but former teachers say they were not paid for the last two weeks of February and are owed retirement payments.

        The school had 12-15 teachers, but it is unclear how many were left when the school closed.

        State officials told the Dayton Urban Academy in early March to close because they did not believe it could cover its financial obligations. Dayton Urban Academy officials said they were owed money by the state and federal governments that could help resolve financial problems.


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