Durham charter school cooperating with investigation

Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Diploma dilemma continues at Kestrel Heights Charter School
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The Kestrel Heights School Board weighed in on an investigation that has its charter renewal on hold.

DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- The Kestrel Heights School Board weighed in on an investigation that has its charter renewal on hold and the Durham District Attorney's attention.

An investigation into credits earned among seniors at Kestrel Heights High has turned up 50 graduates during the past three years with diplomas they didn't earn.

At Tuesday night's regularly scheduled board meeting, the board's president, Brandon Paris said they are actively involved in the investigation and have direct conversations daily with the administration.

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On Monday, the North Carolina State Board of Education approved a motion from the Charter Schools Advisory Board to conduct a full investigation from 2008 to now. They're stretching the investigation back to 2008 to cover the years a former principal and a guidance counselor who just recently resigned, were at the school. They also approved a motion to reconsider the school's pending 10-year charter renewal.

"We are concerned about the viability and the long term health of the schools," said Brandon Paris, President of the Kestrel Heights School Board. "But right now we're focused on the children and we believe that's the best path to make sure that the viability remains."

So far no one has speculated as to what caused the discrepancies, which were caught by the school's new principal, in the first place.

At Tuesday night's meeting, the board went over that timeline, how the discrepancies in coursework for rising seniors was found over the summer. The current principal then alerted other staff. They ended up pulling transcripts from its graduated 2016 class. They pulled 20 at random and found six as having concerns relating to meeting graduation requirements. In total they found problems with 22 students from the class of 2016. They found more than 50 from the past three years.

Work is being done to contact impacted students.


The state board of education, on Tuesday, also approved a measure to include the Durham District Attorney in the investigation for full oversight.

The school board president noted that the high school, the middle and elementary schools are all under the same charter, but he remains hopeful that they're here to stay.

"We have a single charter and so the charter is for the entire school," said Paris. "Like I said we are hopeful that with the investigation and what comes from that, that the state board makes a decision that is favorable to our longevity."

He also stressed during the meeting that there are no issues with current seniors and that steps are being implemented to make sure this doesn't happen again.

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