Lee Co School Board tables plan to end contracts with 2 charter schools
Just a week and a half before school begins, the future of two Lee County Schools is up in the air.Photo: Video by fox4now.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. - These two charter schools are accused of making mistakes. But students say they shouldn't have to pay for them.
Students are pleading to keep their charter schools from closing.
"I never thought that but when i heard it i was in shock," said Johnnee Shanea, 17, who attends the Lee Alternative Charter High School in Lehigh Acres.
They're hoping the Lee County School Board doesn't close the Richard Milburn Academy in Fort Myers and the the Lee Alternative Charter High School in Lehigh Acres after what superintendent Joseph Burke called serious violations. An investigation uncovered that the two high schools awarded students diplomas, who didn't meet the requirements.
"I've been there three years as a teacher and I'm very concerned about not only the students but our positions as educators," said Jean Lamoureux, a teacher at the Richard Milburn Academy in Fort Myers.
But officials chose not to make a quick decision.
"I'm in favor of tabling this myself until we have something in writing," said board member Jane Kuckel.
Board member Don Armstrong agreed, "Before we actually not take action on this item, do we have something in writing," he said.
They emphasied the need to plan carefully where students would go instead.
The first Richard Milburn Academy in Lee County opened in 2001 with 77 students. If the schools shutter, the 500 who attend both now would transfer to either a district or specialty school.
"They're helping me to succeed and that's what i need," said Uniqua Sturgis, 20, a student at the Lee Alternative Charter High School in Lehigh Acres. "And no other school can give me that right now due to my age."
And a lifeline other schools may not offer, said Denise Smelsel, a volunteer at Richard Milburn in Fort Myers. "It's just real important that some of these students have this option that traditional schools cant keep them, keep it going. So, what happens to them if they don't have a Richard Milburn option."
That decision now postponed to August 7 while officials come to an agreement between the district and charter schools.