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Abbeville charter school to close amid "financial and academic concerns"

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Posted at 11:06 AM, Feb 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-15 20:18:21-05

A charter school in Abbeville has abruptly announced it will close, state officials confirm.

The Abbeville Meridional reported that about 70 students at Excelsior College Preparatory (formerly Williams Scholar Academy) were notified that the school had relinquished its charter, leaving them without a school.

The newspaper reports that students got a letter last week notifying them that the school was closed as of February 10, "due to unfortunate circumstances beyond the control of the teachers, faculty, staff, and board members."

The students live in Iberia and Vermilion parishes, and they can now attend their regular zoned schools, state education officials say. We've reached out to those school systems to see how the process is going for the students.

"The students attending Williams Scholar Academy can attend their zoned public school," a statement from the Louisiana Department of Education reads. "We have been in communication with the school system leaders in each parish to help ensure as efficient of a transition as possible for students and families."

"It's affecting them my son actually said today that it makes them angry and that it makes him sad, he's scared he's angry. He is going to miss his friends, he's going to miss his teachers he didnt get a chance to say goodbye to anybody which hurts him and, it hurts me as a parent to see him be put in that position especially right at the end of school so that's kind of how we're angry we're sad it's a mixed emotion really." said, Buffy Harblin who is a parent of 3 students.

According to the newspaper's article and state officials, the board that oversees the school decided to relinquish the charter because it was going to be revoked.

"Anxieties are high they are scared I'm scared for him because I know what goes on in the school systems we had one of them that bullied well all of them were bullied. That is what scares me the most it really does and this school that I worked at was a blessing to each and every one of those students and for them to close the doors like that, without the parents knowing anything about it, it's wrong." said, Darlane Fluharty, former supervisor over housekeeping and maintenance.
An item to discuss "LDOE concerns" was on the school board's January meetings and on the agenda for the board's February 10 meeting.

“Our oversight process worked to detect financial and academic concerns. Their board has made the right decision to relinquish its charter in advance of our recommendation for revocation," the DOE statement reads.

We've reached out to school officials as well to try to get more information.

Here's what Iberia Parish Superintendent Heath Hulin told us about plans for the 12-15 students who live in his parish.

"Iberia Parish stands ready to welcome those students into our school community. Since Excelsior was an approved public charter program, families can report directly to their zoned schools to register their children," Hulin said. "If assistance is needed to determine their zoned school, please contact our Student Services Department at 337-365-2341. If families would like information about Iberia's Virtual Learning Program, please contact our Curriculum Department at 337-364-7641."

Hulin said the staff at the students' home zone schools will be ready to give them any support they might need.

"Once enrolled, school staff will work with students to determine individual supports or remediation that might be needed for a successful transition to the new learning environment," Hulin told us.