State board members put off Kestrel Heights vote amid tough questions

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Members of the State Board of Education said Wednesday that they’re just not ready to make a decision on the future of Kestrel Heights School.

The Durham charter school granted diplomas to more than 150 students who hadn’t met state requirements between 2008 and 2016.

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The board had been slated to vote Wednesday on whether Kestrel Heights should lose the right to operate a high school program, but board members said at a meeting that there are too many questions that still need answers.

“Was this intentional?”
“Has their board changed?”
“Are these schools ever placed on probation?”

Members of the Board of Education grilled representatives of the state’s Charter School Advisory Board, the group that recommended the Kestrel Heights lose its high school program.

“I’m just saying, something about this feels illegal,” said Olivia Oxendine, a member of the state Board of Education. “I don’t know.”

Under the advisory board’s plan, Kestrel Heights would be allowed to continue operating for three years, but would have to get rid of its high school program. It would have to make sure that similar problems don’t emerge again, contact all the students granted erroneous diplomas and give the advisory board updates every six months.

Mark Tracy, executive director of Kestrel Heights, said the school would like to keep its high school program intact.

“I know it’s a difficult decision for them, and we appreciate them taking the time to truly think through the problems and situations,” Tracy said.

Wednesday was the second time in a month the state Board of Education has posted making a decision on the issue.

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