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Proposed charter school rejected
Staff recommendation cited several concerns with application
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Forsyth County News

It appears the International Charter School of Atlanta won’t be opening its doors in August as organizers had planned.  

The language was clear Wednesday, when the state Charter Schools Commission denied the application, which would have brought a language immersion academy to south Forsyth.

The commission’s vote followed staff recommendations to deny the application for four primary reasons, including that its board and personnel didn’t have adequate governing capacity and the budget created financial uncertainty.

Also noted was that the board for the proposed school did not present any strategy to recruit and retain teachers who would meet the International Baccalaureate designation it sought.

According to the staff’s recommendation, it was unlikely the school would be able to meet the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, particularly in implementing the IB program.

Such a program, it noted, “requires extensive pedagogical experience and many of the teachers would need to be native speakers of other languages. Many state charter schools struggle to meet the personnel requirements of ESEA without such additional challenges.”

Lastly, the staff recommendation said the petition did not outline a strategy to implement the “school’s extremely rigorous academic program.”

Representatives of the proposed charter school could not be reached for comment.

Its board of directors held public meetings earlier in the year, reaching out to the community for support.

Response was strong, with more than 200 parents attending the first session to learn more about the program, which aimed to offer full immersion in Spanish, Mandarin, French, German and English. The plan was to offer multiple tracks for students to learn two different languages in addition to English. 

During their public meetings, International Charter School of Atlanta’s board members praised the county’s school system, but said their language immersion format was not something public schools offered.

The Charter Schools Commission makes its decisions in the fall, which means the next opportunity to apply to the state would be early summer 2014, for a 2015 opening.