Charter school relocates amid skepticism from School Board

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RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) - At the Richmond School Board meeting on January 3, 2012, a parent suggested that the school board is being combative with the new charter school, a sentiment also felt by some teachers.

It comes at the heels of the school's grand opening in their new building next week.

Virginia's first charter elementary school is moving into their permanent home on Semmes Avenue, after teaching out of a local church for more than a year.

Next Monday, 185 Patrick Henry students in kindergarten through fifth grade will pour into their newly renovated school, which is now up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Teacher Gayle Dillon said the transition is a major milestone for the already successful school.

“Our SOL scores were at the higher end of RPS schools,” she said.

But despite its performance, the school has serious issues, according to the Richmond Public School Board.

“A lot of times it feels like the school board is working against Patrick Henry and it really hurts me,” Kyle Kennedy, whose child attends the school, said.

During the city school board meeting Tuesday night, Kennedy referred to the board's four-page letter, dated Dec. 14, to the Patrick Henry Board and community.

School board chairwoman Kimberly Bridges said in the letter that the school's revenues have been consistently lower than projections, that no science and arts curriculum have been implemented, and that there's been significant staff turnover.

"It came across as fighting than doing what's right with the students", said Kennedy.

“It’s a disappointment," said Bridges. Bridges said the letter has nothing to do with the Richmond School Board's support of Patrick Henry Charter School.

Rather, it's about contract requirements that have to be fulfilled by the school she said.

“All we're looking at is what commitments were made by the board, and are those are followed through,” said Bridges.

Patrick Henry charter school board is scheduled to meet with the Richmond public school board on Feb. 17.

Today’s meeting came after documents were made public, including emails, from the board’s former vice-president, Reggie Malone to the Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, Yvonne Brandon.

The documents were released by former members of the Patrick Henry charter school board, who used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the e-mail correspondence between Malone and Brandon, according to Richmond Magazine reporter Chris Dovi.