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Collegiate Charter School petitioning to stay open

Woman named as board member says she was unaware
Posted at 8:12 PM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 20:12:34-04

FORT MYERS — The Collegiate Charter School of Fort Myers is fighting back against the Lee County School Board.

It has filed a petition, contesting the decision to close the school immediately, but we’re learning that some of the school’s governing board members were not informed about what was going on.

We had a conversation with Jamonique Harrison on Wednesday, who is named as a Governing Board Member for the school. She said she had no idea the school even existed, and she didn't know how her name got on the petition. Harrison said she signed on to be a board member for the Collegiate Charter School of Lauderdale Lakes, but to her knowledge, that school was never opened.

This is just the latest in a series of surprising developments at the charter school over the past month.

On September 16th, the Lee County School Board took the extraordinary step of closing the Collegiate Charter School, amidst allegations that it couldn’t properly teach the students enrolled there.

“I said well how are you doing three classrooms with two adults? And then she showed me how she could stand between the two classrooms, and I said you absolutely cannot do that. This is not a way to teach students," said Teri Cannady, the Lee Schools Program Development Director.

But the school hired a consultant, Christopher Norwood, who filed the petition to keep it open. The petition questions whether the school actually violated its charter, and asks for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. But for one vendor we spoke with who worked with the school, there weren’t any questions.

“First thing I noticed was that the place was filthy. It was absolutely filthy. I delivered meals for a whole week, and I saw that the food was in the little dining room, just uncovered. The counters were dirty. It was one buns, it was opened food, they had yogurt on the counters," said Michelle Pope, of Chelle's Special Touch Catering.

We reached out to the Lee County School District, and it responded, simply saying "We will meet our obligations and proceed with a hearing before an administrative law judge.”

We also spoke with Norwood, who said he didn’t want to give a comment about the petition until a hearing date has been set by an administrative law judge.