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The Voice of the Black Community


Charter school parents mull lawsuit
StudentFirst Academy lost charter, closing
Published Thursday, April 10, 2014 1:12 am
by Herbert L White

Parents of StudentFirst Academy, surprised by the school’s sudden closing, are considering a lawsuit against its leadership.

The public charter school on Tuckaseegee Road is closing its doors to 266 K-8 students on April 11; teachers and staff will be let go on April 15 in the wake of mounting debt. StudentFirst is $600,000 in arrears to lenders, and school leaders surrendered its charter to state officials last week. Meanwhile, parents are weighing their options for a class action lawsuit.

“What’s really wanted is for someone to be held accountable for it,” said Perneice Mendez, whose grandson and daughter attend StudentFirst. “They just can’t do things like this and everybody just sweeps it under the rug. They want someone to pay the price for what’s happened.”

In a statement, Derrick Gates, head of school at StudentFirst Academy said the school didn’t have much choice.

“This decision was made after exhausting all possible options to reach the high standard we have set in place for our students,” he said. “In keeping with our student-centered approach, every effort possible will be made to assist families in transitioning from SFA’s environment.” 

StudentFirst students can move on to traditional public schools, private schools or another public charter school. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools – which funneled $490,000 to StudentFirst since February per state law – is sending officials to an open house on April 7-8 to help parents with the transition. Palisades Episcopal School and Aristotle Preparatory Academy, both public charter schools, are also participating in the open house and StudentFirst parents can visit Smith Family Center at 1600 Tyvola Road to discuss the transfer process to CMS.

“Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is working very closely with staff and families from StudentFirst Academy Charter School to ensure a smooth transition for students who plan to attend CMS,” the district declared in a statement. “We welcome students who come to us from StudentFirst Academy.”

StudentFirst parents are scrambling for new schools in the midst of preparing for end of grade testing. 

“Our students are in the  process of EOGs,” said Mendez, whose daughter and grandson will transfer to Sugar Creek Charter. “Now, you’re moving from one school to put them into something else that they don’t know and have to get acclimated. Their life is being disrupted. Then you have other students who are like ‘who are these new children?’”


If elected, my plan is to follow the Chicago City School's process for private schools. There is strength in a school system publicly funded.
Posted on April 8, 2014

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