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story.lead_photo.caption Parents and students from the shuttered Little Rock Urban Collegiate Public Charter School for Young Men rally at the State Capitol Wednesday in a bid to get the facility to reopen. ( Gavin Lesnick)

— Parents and students from a Little Rock charter school ordered closed immediately by the Arkansas Board of Education are rallying outside the State Capitol in a push to get the facility reopened.

Little Rock Urban Collegiate Public Charter School for Young Men was shut down Monday by the board, which cited budget problems that had the 262-pupil school on track to have a deficit of more than $250,000 by the close of its first year.

Parents and students from the Little Rock Urban Collegiate Public Charter School for Young Men rallied at the State Capitol Wednesday in a push to have the facility reopened. The Arkansas Board of Education ordered it closed immediately Monday amid reports of financial problems.

Parents, students rally for shuttered school

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Shirley Bruce, the mother of a fourth grader who went to the school, was one of about 75 parents and children who gathered on the steps of the capitol Wednesday, displaying signs, passing out literature and chanting "save our school."

"The unfairness is other newly established charter schools who have suffered a financial shortage in their initial year have been allowed to continue," said Bruce, who helped organize the demonstration. "The other schools retained the funds they needed. This school was not allowed to do that."

Bruce said the sudden closure was "devastating" on the students and would lead to academic problems as they transition midyear into other facilities if Urban Collegiate doesn't reopen.

The school, located at Markham and South Hughes streets in Little Rock, was the first independently run charter school to close immediately in the middle of the school year.

The parents and students are expected to rally at the capitol again Thursday.


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Archived Comments

  • JB3
    March 16, 2011 at 10:56 a.m.

    My biggest concern is moving these students 3 - 4 weeks before standardized testing. Of course, according to the state department they will be considered "highly mobile" since they are entering their new schools late but this is not a good move in regards to testing the students or for their emotional well-being. Wondering why this could not have been done at the end of school instead of 3/4ths of the way into the school year.

  • LR1955
    March 16, 2011 at 11:12 a.m.

    Considering Federal Regulations and other political agendas regarding the LRSD it's not surprising the school would bew closed, but with the end of the school year so close, it does seem to be rather harsh on the students and their families to drop this kind of bomb on them.

    On th other hand it has been reported that some administrative staff misreported the attendance numbers which gained the school money they weren't due so the parents should be holdng those people accountable.

  • wrongaccount
    March 16, 2011 at 11:32 a.m.

    Approval to reopen the school seems dependent on who would be paying to keep the school open. It seems like there could be greater results if efforts were applied to fund-raising. I’ve also heard about some misrepresentations of attendance numbers.

  • crowne2_lycos-com
    March 24, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.

    @LR1955: "misreported" = lied.
    Great way to influence children. They have to pay the Feds back before even the teachers can get a final paycheck. Some out there don't seem to realize the extent of the 'misreporting', as you call it.

  • JakeTidmore
    March 24, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.

    • LRUCPC failed to satisfy generally accepted accounting standards of fiscal management; and

    • LRUCPC failed to comply with other applicable laws and regulations.

    As of January 31, 2011, the school’s unrestricted legal balance was a negative $84,946.57. The charter school had additional unrecorded liabilities totaling $95,577.89.

    Additionally, on July 30, 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 596 students when the actual enrollment on that date was 297. At no time did they correct this error.

    “As a result of LRUCPC’s deficiencies in the area of financial performance, I am compelled to exercise my authority and intervene,” said Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell.

    The school drew taxpayer money at a rate of about $6,000 a year for 300 phantom students — which meant an additional $1.8 million over the course of the school year. Unless it was staffing up for these phantom students, which layoffs would indicate it did not, the problem wasn't too little money, but too much money, poorly managed.