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Charter school closes 24 hours before start of classes

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Hillcrest Academy in Mesa closed its doors last week 24 hours before classes were scheduled to start. Leaders of the K-8 charter school surprised parents and the charter school board with an e-mail announcing the closure.

“We were very disappointed to see that the school was not going to open and that they weren’t notifying families until the day before school started,” said Whitney Chapa, executive director of the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools.

The school had 129 students enrolled.

Chapa said the school is out of compliance with its contract with the board and the Charter School Board staff is reviewing how to proceed. The charter representative will likely have to appear at a board meeting. Revocation of the school’s charter is a possibility.

Typically when there is a school closure, the school will notify the parents well in advance, usually the year before, and suggest other schools for the parents to consider.

“They (Hillcrest Academy) had been having some financial issues, and in all the communications we had with the charter representative, we were under the assumption that they were going to continue to operate and were going to open. They had been enrolling students,” Chapa said.

The board doesn’t know what has happened to Hillcrest Academy’s teachers.

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