School may have closed, padlocked doors without notifying teachers, parents

Did School Close Without Notifying Parents Or Teachers?
Did School Close Without Notifying Parents Or Teachers?

Charter school VLT Academy in Cincinnati is now closed for good, apparently giving parents and teachers no official warning except for some padlocked doors. WCPO confirmed the news with a former teacher.

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She said, "There has been no official notice." Now, 600 students will have to find other schools. The teacher adds, "The hard part is there are a lot of wait lists for a lot of the open enrollment."

HLN reports, "The parents don't know how they're going to enroll their kids now because the student records are still locked up at the school."

We checked VLT Academy's website, which still notes it's enrolling students for the 2014-15 school year. The phone number listed is disconnected.

Perhaps the problem stems from a legal issue the school is facing. Ohio state law requires charter schools to have a sponsor. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports VLT's former sponsor -- Educational Resource Consultants -- recently opted not to renew its contract, citing "poor academics and financial issues."

No other sponsors jumped on board. The school's Superintendent Valerie Lee thinks there's another reason the academy couldn't track down a new sponsor.

"Lee said the Ohio Department of Education pressured other sponsors not to take on the school. The state can't directly close charter schools unless they perform so poorly that they trigger Ohio's academic closure laws. So the state is instead cracking down on charter school sponsors."

In July, a judge ordered the Ohio Department of Education to sponsor VLT and fork over nearly $300,000. But it was later appealed, and the judge issued a stay. The department wrote that decisions meant it wouldn't have to sponsor the "poor performing community school."

That statement makes the state's opinion very clear. Because the stay was issued, assets froze and debts reportedly mounted.

According to WCPO, three companies are now suing VLT because the school's rent wasn't paid. That case will be in court August 18.

Lee says she had no choice but to close, but she didn't give a reason why teachers and parents weren't informed.

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