Our students and families love Dynamic Community. Students are happy, progressing academically and emotionally, and are making friends, many for the first time. They are weaved into the fabric of this school in a way that was not possible when they were mainstreamed.
In the words of DCCS parent Lauren Fleckenstein, “Dynamic Community Charter School is a community as well as a school. The parents, the Board and the teachers work together to support each child’s individual needs. Everyone who attends Dynamic knows each other’s names, they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and everyone works together to celebrate and support each other through the daily challenges and successes that accompany special needs education.”
So, why does the State Board of Education want to shut us down? They have given three reasons: funding, IEP compliance, and teacher licensure.
Funding: There are no allegations of improper payments or money misspent. Simply put, we have not been funded to meet the obligations of our students Individual Education Plans (IEP). Properly teaching special needs students is expensive, and we were not funded for a third of students this year since they were homeschooled last year. After seven months of not being funded, the state has released to us special needs funding for the homeschooled students. This significantly closes our funding gap. We are close to finishing the year, but we still need your support. Please visit our GoFundMe page if you wish to contribute to the education of these dynamic students.
IEP Compliance: Instead of assisting a new school that supports and welcomes any and all disabilities, the State has rushed to judgment and closure. Our State consultant stated this summer: We should not exist if we had three million dollars in the bank as we are setting disability education back 40 years. That same consultant said even if we found funding, the State would close us down.
Our parents are frustrated that their children’s IEPs were often not met, and they were given lip service in their prior schools. A third of our students were homeschooled because their parents know that public schools are not equipped to teach their children. Here, our students are showing real academic progress, making friends, and thriving. Ask our parents who are on the IEP team and they will tell you that their child’s IEPs are being met.
Just two months after opening our doors, the State conducted a full audit under a program initiated to help new charter schools. The audit report did not recommend closure but included timeframes for remedies and compliance — which have not been allowed. The audit report was rushed to completion and sent straight to the Charter School Advisory Board at the same time we received it. We had no notice or opportunity to respond to the audit.
Only two months later that Advisory Board voted to recommend closure in their February meeting. We received no notice of the February meeting. In January, the Advisory Board assured our parents and our school that we would be allowed to remain open, so there was no reason to come to the February meeting.
The latest Exceptional Child (EC) report from the State to the Advisory Board is based on a walk through – literally 5-10 minutes in four (4) classrooms. Our school is designed to accommodate our students’ needs, including extended class periods to allow multiple teaching methods and individualized instruction for our students. There is no way to get an accurate picture of how our classes run or whether our students’ IEPs are being met in such a short period of time.
Teacher Licensure: The majority of our teachers have full EC certification. We received clearance this summer from the State to hire a few teachers who would lateral into their EC certification. With the constant threat of closure from state, we have lost EC certified teachers. The Advisory Board even voted in January to require us to cut our teachers and staff salaries and benefits which greatly concerned our staff and angered our parents.
We have four amazing teachers working on their EC certification – which means all of our teachers will be fully EC certified. Contrast this to many public schools where a substitute is hired for extended periods of time until an EC certified teacher can be found. Ask our Lead Administrator. Her daughter went a year and half in a Wake County public school with a Teachers Assistant — not even a teacher — in the classroom.
Our students, parents, administration and board applaud the dedication and devotion of our qualified teachers. It is under their instruction and guidance that our students are learning and growing. As DCCS parent Rebecca Samuell states, “I’ve never seen my son open up and engage in learning the way he has at Dynamic Community. For the first time, he’s the same funny, smart, insightful kid in school as he is at home.” Most of our parents have similar stories: first friends, first sleepovers, first birthday parties, first time to feel accepted and to want to go to school.
We hope this paints a clearer picture of our story. We hope you feel that these students deserve a quality education. If so, please show your support by signing this petition to the North Carolina State Board of Education.