Charter school turning away young students; parents scrambling to find new schools

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Some parents are scrambling to enroll their kids in school after finding out that Hillcrest Academy did not receive a charter for several grades.

The school sent a letter to parents Monday, informing them that the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools did not approve Hillcrest Academy for kindergarten through fourth grade.

"Unfortunately, this means all Kindergarten through Fourth grade students will need to enroll in another school beginning tomorrow, Sept. 9th," according to the letter. "We will remain open tomorrow only for K-4th grade students should you need a child care option. We are very saddened by this news and will miss our young students being with us."

School started in August.

Students in fifth grade through 12th grade will continue at Hillcrest Phoenix, while Hillcrest Mesa continues as a K-8 school.

Hillcrest Academy has campuses in Phoenix and Mesa. It is the Phoenix campus, a new one for Hillcrest, that did not receive a K-4 charter.

According to documents presented at Monday's meeting of the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, the board had concerns about Hillcrest Academy's performance, both academically and financially.

The school was first issued a charter in 1997 as Destiny Community School. The charter was renewed in 2011. The board approved the name change to Hillcrest Academy last July.

Documents show the Arizona Department of Education gave Hillcrest a B for fiscal year 2014.

Hillcrest is in the process of merging with International Charter School of Arizona.

About 80 students, the vast majority from the Phoenix campus, are affected by Arizona State Board for Charter Schools' decision.

School officials said parents will be reimbursed for uniforms and other required purchases and severance packages are being put together for teachers who will no longer have jobs.