Pinellas moves closer to closing an elementary charter school

Imagine Charter School St. Petersburg appeared again before the Pinellas County School Board Tuesday, fighting to stay open despite academic problems.

This time, Imagine officials brought a strong visual: their students. More than 100 students attended the board meeting. Some spoke — one second-grader said Imagine had the "most sweetest teachers in the world" — while a couple of young boys took the opportunity to nap.

Board members praised the children for their good behavior and, for those who spoke, their bravery. But members said the issue came down to academic performance. Imagine has earned three F's in four years, posting the lowest FCAT scores of any public school in Pinellas County.

The board voted unanimously to send the case to an administrative law judge for a hearing, an action that advances the district's efforts shut down the school's elementary grades. Imagine's middle school would not be affected.

After the hearing, the judge will make a recommendation, which the school board can accept or reject. The hearing could happen in a couple of months.

Shawn Arnold, a lawyer for Imagine, said school leaders were disappointed by the board's decision. Parents at Imagine will get updates about the issue through the school newsletter, he said.

Contact Cara Fitzpatrick at cfitzpatrick@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8846 or on Twitter @Fitz_ly.

Pinellas moves closer to closing an elementary charter school 02/12/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 11:46pm]

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