State board votes to close Durham's Kestrel Heights charter high school after diploma problems

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Students are stunned as Kestrel Heights High School is ordered to close.

The State Board of Education voted Thursday to close Durham's Kestrel Heights charter high school after problems over an eight-year period in which students were given diplomas despite not completing required classes.

Many students left campus wondering what comes next.

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Junior Quynh Ngein says she had to leave to class because she was so upset.

"We honestly don't know how to feel. We're super shocked," she said. "It's just really hard for us. We really didn't want to find another school."

More than 280 undergraduate will have to transfer to other schools and two dozen employees could lose their jobs.



"The next 12 months will definitely be a challenge," said junior Maddie Vargas.

Parents say they are equally stressed and scrambling to relocate their children.

"We've got to think of something soon because school year will be over soon," said parent Michael Glasgow.

The board unanimously voted to revoke Kestrel Height's charter and some board members were visually upset.

"This is always an emotional thing," said Dr. Olivia Oxendine. "This is certainly unfortunate, but it is necessary."

PREVIOUS STORY: State board recommends Durham's Kestrel Heights close high school - become K-8

"This is the ultimate in accountability," said Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

The state says that during an eight-year span, 160 graduates received a diploma they did not earn. Those students skipped mandated classes, such as English and math.

A new principal discovered the problem in July and self-reported the issues.

The administration made changes and implemented new policies to try to save the school.

Executive Director Dr. Mark Tracy says he is now focused on helping students transition out of Kestrel.

"We will make sure they land on their feet," he said. "We will work with each and every one of the families."

Kestrel Height has 10 days to appeal the ruling. Administration isn't sure if the board will go that route.

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