DOE Votes to Shutter Williamsburg Charter High School

By Meredith Hoffman on April 3, 2012 11:57pm 

The Williamsburg Charter High School is slated to close at the end of this school year.
The Williamsburg Charter High School is slated to close at the end of this school year.
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DNA/Theodore Parisienne

WILLIAMSBURG— The Williamsburg Charter High School will be shuttered at the end of this school year, the Department of Education announced Tuesday.

The school on Varet Street, part of the Believe Schools charter group, will be closed because of fiscal problems and leadership issues, according to the DOE.

The school, for instance, failed to disclose its board members' connections to the charter, and the network's former CEO Eddie Calderon-Melendez was previously re-hired without the consideration of other candidates for the position, the DOE said.

"Time and again, this school has failed to live up to the conditions we set when concerns arose over their management and finances," said Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg in a statement.

"We hold charter schools to the highest standards—and in a case like this, where a school has been given multiple opportunities but still failed to implement oversight and accountability, we need to take action," he said. "We will work with current students and their families to ensure they have access to a high quality high school next year.”

The approximately 900 9th to 11th grade students at Williamsburg Charter High School will receive a letter in the next few days with a chance to rank their options for a school to attend next year, a spokesman for the DOE said.

The charter school has been on probation since the fall, but an attorney for the institution said that the DOE has not taken into account recent reforms.

"The decision reiterates what they've been saying for months," said lawyer Ellen Eagen of the DOE. "It doesn't take into account the changes we've made in the last eight weeks."

Recently the network's CEO was dismissed, and the school has new applicants for the board, said Eagen.

"This is an arbitrary and capricious decision," she said.

Eagen said the school's board was trying to decide whether to take further legal action.

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