Fulton Superintendent Plans to Close Fulton Science Academy High

Robert Avossa will present to the Fulton School Board an auditor's report in support of a letter of termination of the public charter school's contract he plans to send to the school.


Nearby Sandy Springs, Fulton Science Academy High School will close at the end of the school year if the Fulton School Board agrees the school's charter contract has been violated and the school must close.

Superintendent of Schools Robert Avossa is expected to ask the Fulton School Board to terminate the charter school contract with Fulton Science Academy High School in Alpharetta during a work session today.

Avossa wrote a letter dated Dec. 4 that detailed reasons for the termination recommendation, many of which mirrored reasons given when Fulton Science Academy Middle School was unable to renew its charter. This letter is part of the supporting documents posted with the Dec. 4 work session agenda for the Fulton School Board.

"This action is necessary because the FSAHS Governing Board has demonstrated insufficient governance capacity, its actions (or failure to act) have created significant financial concerns, and has demonstrated an insufficient record of accountability and legal compliance. Any one of these three failures independently would justify this action," Avossa's letter of termination, dated Dec. 4, states.

Fulton Science Academy High is in default on the joint bond issue intended to fund construction of a new school for it, Fulton Science Middle and Sunshine Academy. But no costs associated with the bond repayment are shown in the school's budget, Avossa's letter states.

Students at Fulton Science Academy High have been paying hundreds of dollars for online courses that are required courses, which is not allowed. Required courses are to be provided free of charge at any public school.

An executive summary of the audit report that identified concerns about the school identified four major concerns. This includes a failure to meet student enrollment obligations, which the summary said "endangers the school's fiscal stability and provides evidence of a lack of community support and demand for the school."

Fulton County Schools staff also said the school shows insufficient governance capacity, saying a lack of transparency identified in the school's initial charter term and renewal hasn't been remedied. The creation of actual or perceived conflicts of interest with school staff and board members being employees of Grace Institute until 2011. Even after this, the school continued to contract with services from Grace Institute.

Statements by school governing board members showed a lack of independence from the school administration and its founding board, with several board members saying it never created policies for the school. The board had no involvement in the selection of school leadership and staff, the report states.

The school failed to properly account and follow-up for student truancy, absenteeism and tardiness. Auditors were told the school had above average attendance rates, yet when records were checked, the school had an excessive number of absences and tardiness, and many instances of improperly excused absences.

The report also takes issue with the school's practice of only hiring teachers from Turkey, and paying for immigration costs for the prospective teachers and their families. The reason given for hiring only immigrants was that no qualified local teacher candidates could be found for the lower salaries. The auditors said no calculations were done by the school on how much more teachers could be paid if immigration costs were removed.


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