‘It is devastating’: State may shut down charter school for not submitting audits

SPENCER, N.C. — The Essie Mae Kiser Foxx Charter School in East Spencer may be forced to shut down, which would have about 100 students scrambling to find a new school.

State leaders said the school has failed to submit audits for the past two years, which could be grounds to close the facility.

“I hope they do allow them to stay open, because like older people say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a night,’” parent Latrece Withers said.

She is upset that the school that educated two of her children could close in the middle of the pandemic.

“Of course, it is devastating,” said Tina Foxx-Wallace, who chairs the school’s board.

>> Have questions about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Carolinas? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the pandemic -- CLICK HERE FOR MORE.

Wallace learned this week that the North Carolina Charter Schools Advisory Board voted to revoke the school’s charter.

The state Department of Public Instruction stated Wednesday in a statement, “CSAB voted to recommend … that Essie Mae’s charter be revoked, due to failing to submit audits the last two years.”

School officials said they hired a firm last year to complete the audits from 2018 to 2020.

“The firm has been negligent in completing the audits as outlined in the contract,” Foxx-Wallace said. “We understood the audits were due, and there was a timeline for those, so we take responsibility for that.”

Foxx-Wallace said the school is still in the process of notifying the parents of the students.

“We have our students' best interest at heart and only that,” she said. “Whatever we need to do, we will do to rectify this situation.”

Essie Mae Kiser Foxx is a Title 1 school, which means many of the students come from low-income areas.

The state Board of Education must approve revoking the charter. The school can appeal, which they plan to do.

Statement from N.C. Sen. Carl Ford:

“I’m saddened by this news because Essie Mae Kiser Charter school is a beacon in the East Spencer community. Teaching children more than the 3 Rs but also important life lessons. I will work with the school and the state board to bring the school back to Rowan.”