by: Natalie Pasquarella Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Hundreds of families whose children go to a charter school just learned it is closing next week.
Angry parents met Thursday night to find ways to stop Students First Academy Charter School from being shut down.
There are 266 students enrolled at the school.
"To me, it was very disrespectful to them, to the children," said Samantha Gentel, a parent.
Gentel and Youa Moua are two parents who just found out the school will close next week; they called an emergency Parent Teacher Association meeting.
"Get an answer, an answer as to what we're going to do, where we're going to put our kids," Moua said.
Families got the news Wednesday that the school doesn't have enough money to stay open the rest of the school year.
While the principal wouldn't talk to Channel 9 about the debt, the school told the state it owes around $600,000.
Charter schools are funded with taxpayer money, and Channel 9 found out the state and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools were giving the school money right up until the end.
CMS said since February it's paid the school $489,954.
Channel 9 spoke to the office that oversees all charter schools in the state to ask if more oversight is needed to protect tax dollars.
"Part of the charter school promise was that if a school doesn't perform, it can and it will be closed,” said Joel Medley, director of the Office of Charter Schools. “So closing schools, whether for finance, whether for governance, whether for education or academic reasons, that is part of what charter schools were supposed to do."
The Office of Charter Schools also said the main focus now is making sure the students have a smooth transition from the academy.to whatever school they're headed to next.