PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – The Pinellas County School Board is poised to shut down three embattled charter schools at its meeting Tuesday but parents at Windsor Prep, one of those schools, have mounted a vigorous campaign to keep that from happening.
“Our school has an entire new leadership team that has moved mountains within a few months,” wrote Tonya Hanson in an email to the Pinellas School District. “We need one more year to prove that we are one of the best school in Pinellas County.”RELATED: Parents and teachers at embattled St. Pete charter school find new reason for hope
8 On Your Side has received copies of more than 80 emails sent to the school district from anxious parents who insist Windsor Prep remains viable despite months of controversy over the for-profit management company, Newpoint Education Partners. That company wreaked financial chaos at Windsor and two other charter schools located in Pinellas County and was indicted May 5 by an Escambia County grand jury for grand theft, money laundering and white collar crimes involving schools in Pensacola.
The Pinellas School District staff has concluded Newpoint’s schools in Pinellas are in “deteriorating financial condition” and have recommended that the school board issue a 90-day notice of termination.RELATED: Embattled charter school company forgives $1 million debt it claimed Pinellas school owed
Windsor parents and teachers and even the students claim that shutting down the schools is unfair because Newpoint is-or soon will be-out of the picture, and Windsor has taken dramatic steps to right itself with a new charter school board.CLICK HERE to read Save Our Schools – Windsor petition
“It’s a great place and I’m just upset the district doesn’t see that they don’t see the positive that’s happening at this school, said Windsor first-grade teacher Justin Fleming. Like other teachers at Windsor, Fleming works for less pay and makes do in a school that is short on books and supplies, but insists there is a family atmosphere unparalleled in regular public schools.
Fleming’s wife Michele teaches the second grade at Windsor and became teary-eyed last week while listening to one of her students lavish praise on her teaching skills.
“I hope each day that I’m making the biggest impact I possibly can on their lives so when I hear it actually happening, of course, it fills my heart with joy,” Fleming said.
Windsor parents are now rallying to convince the school board they can restore the school to firm financial footing and correct all the problems caused by Newpoint.
“We’re just a little confused why the Pinellas County School Board isn’t giving us a chance to show them how we’re fixing things,” said parent Jessica Ismoilov.
She said parents plan to pack the school district headquarters Tuesday morning before the school board members decide the fate of Windsor Prep, Windsor East and Newpoint Academy.
“I’m hoping they have enough room for all of us,” Ismoilov said.
Even students are getting into the act. “I was really sad and disappointed so I went home and made a poster to try to save the school,” said second-grader Caiden Stephenson.