After appeals process, Midlands Math and Business Charter will c - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

After appeals process, Midlands Math and Business Charter will close

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

The Richland One School Board voted three years ago to revoke the charter of the Midlands Math and Business Academy. During the appeals process, the school has been operating without a charter. Now the courts have sided with the district, forcing the school to close next week.

"I do not want them to close it down," said parent Hoke Currie. "I believe it's a precious jewel that is really making a big difference in the lives of children."

The school is tucked inside an old shopping center with 72 students in grades 4 through 8.

Many parents send their students to the charter school because they felt their kids were falling through the cracks.

"This has been a great opportunity for my son," said Currie. "He's blossomed here. Gone from being at the middle of the bottom at his elementary school class to doing work that really impresses me."

The small class sizes, individualized instruction, and focus on math and leadership are important assets parent Valerie Furman doesn't want her child to lose.

"It made a difference for me putting them here," said Furman.

The Richland One School Board voted to revoke the school's charter in 2009.

"There were several violations that included academics as well as some staffing issues," said Richland One Superintendent Percy Mack.

Mack says the school did not fulfill the goals set forth in its charter. The district sent in resources to help the school rebound, but Mack says there has not been enough progress.

"Over time, they'll understand the decisions made here were the right decisions," said Mack.

Earlier this month, the courts ruled the academy violated its charter and has low test scores. Parents, on the other hand, say this school has changed their students for the better and shutting it down would undo the progress they're making and force them back into a failing environment.

Parent Monica Smith is worried about sending her child back to a zoned school that she says didn't meet her daughter's needs.

"Before I enroll her in Richland One that we're zoned for, I'll home school her or send her to the charter school on North Main," said Smith.

Parents have less than a week to decide on a new school.

"At least give us 'til the rest of the school year and the summer to figure out what other options are out there besides being put back into the zoned school that as far as mine -- was considered a failing school as my only option," said Smith.

Superintendent Mack says making the move now is in the best interest of the kids.

"For them to move my child right now would set him back and the reason it'll set him back is because he finally just opened up," said Furman.

"I want to make a difference in my children's lives. And if this is what we have to do to fight for our children to have that better life, that's what we're planning to do."

The district says it will stop all funding to the school next Tuesday March 26. The school does have the right to file another appeal but has not made a decision yet.

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