State Board of Education to decide embattled Durham school's future this morning

DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Hundreds of Kestrel Heights families could learn Thursday morning whether the high school is staying open.

The State Board of Education is expected to vote on the school's charter.

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The Charter School Advisory Board is recommending a closure, leaving the school only teaching K-8. Members have called the Kestrel Heights Board incompetent, negligent, and an embarrassment.

The State says that during eight years, 160 students skipped one or more required classes, including English and Math, but still were handed a diploma.

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

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

"Clearly, it was not an issue of illegal activity," said Kestrel Heights Executive Director Dr. Mark Tracy. "It was an issue of where a couple staff members did not do what they should have done."

There is also a petition on for the renewal of Kestrel Heights' charter for the entire school (K-12). More than 680 people are offering their support.

The Class of 2017 might be the last to graduate and more than 280 undergrads will have to search for a new place to go.

"Our high school students deserve and are looking forward to continuing their education at Kestrel and we hope that we'll be able to provide that for them," Tracy said.

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Students have rallied on campus in protest and parents are pushing for their kids to stay at the school.

"We have complete confidence in Kestrel. Our goal is that he graduate high school from there. The community at Kestrel is amazing," said parent Glenna Boston.

Kestrel says there is new staffing and policies in place to correct the issues.

We're told courses are now being offered to those 160 students and it is being paid for by administration.

"We have worked effortlessly since this information has been discovered to correct the action and put things in place to make sure that children are taken care of and they're getting a great education," Boston said.

Several students have already transferred out of Kestrel ahead of the ruling. Those students are enrolled in the Wake and Durham County school districts.

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