Imagine Charter brings students to fight closure
Imagine Charter School in St. Petersburg was once again before the Pinellas County School Board Tuesday, fighting to stay open despite its troubled academic history.
This time, charter officials brought a powerful visual for the School Board: Their students. More than 100 students filed into the board room, looking neat in khaki pants, white shirts and black vests.
Some students spoke before the board. One second grader said Imagine had the “most sweetest teachers in the world.” Others, as the hearing dragged on, used the opportunity to sneak in a quick nap.
Imagine narrowly escaped closure in July after parents, teachers and staff gave tearful speeches to the School Board. Former superintendent John Stewart had recommended the board send a 90-day notice to close. But board members, under new superintendent Mike Grego, agreed in December to move forward with closing the school. The school then requested an informal hearing, which was held in January.
The charter has earned three F’s in four years, with the lowest FCAT scores of any public school in Pinellas County. Its principal changed this school year.
Board members voted unanimously to continue with efforts to close Imagine. An administrative law judge now will review both sides and make a recommendation, which the board can either accept or reject. The hearing is tentatively scheduled for April, according to Imagine's lawyer, Shawn Arnold.
Imagine officials, who spoke during the public meeting, wouldn't comment afterward. Arnold said they were disappointed by the vote. Parents will be updated about the possible closure through the school newsletter, he said.