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Cobb charter school sues for survival

A Cobb County charter school is fighting in court to keep its doors open after the school district refused to renew its contract.

The International Academy of Smyrna, with more than 1,000 students, appeared doomed to close its doors for good this summer after the county school board rejected its charter renewal petition on April 20.

But school leaders filed a lawsuit Monday in Fulton County Superior Court alleging the district shortchanged it over $2 million by miscalculating what it was owed in state funding.

“The reduction in funding and other support resulted in an immediate and high rate of teacher turnover that directly caused a decrease in student test scores,” the lawsuit says. The school district “then used the decrease in student scores to justify its decision to oppose renewing or extending IAS’s charter.”

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The lawsuit asks the court to void the school board’s 6-1 non-renewal vote and order the school district to renew or extend the charter.

The school, founded in 2006, has had two five-year contracts, or charters. The latest expires June 30. Parents described a familial atmosphere there, a place where the principal gives hugs and knows the children’s names.

But district officials reported that the school underperformed both the district and state averages on the state report card, the College and Career Ready Performance Index. They also said any miscalculations related to funding were the school’s own fault because, they said, it submitted inaccurate documents at the last minute.

Channel 2's Tom Jones reports.

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