A Willimantic charter school that's been embroiled in a controversy over its operations has decided to voluntarily close.
Path Academy will be closing its doors this coming school year. The state Board of Education voted in June to begin the charter revocation process, but last week, the school's governing body decided to voluntarily surrender its charter after only five years of operation.
The charter high school had been operating two unauthorized satellite locations, and it had enrolled many students who weren't regularly attending. The state estimated that it may have overpaid Path Academy by over $1.5 million over a two-year period.
Path Academy focused on students who were at a high-risk of dropping out -- usually older students with complex histories. Our Piece of the Pie, or OPP, ran the charter school. In an earlier interview with Connecticut Public Radio, OPP CEO Enid Rey said there is a strong need for options for these students.
"I think that the project in its inception was important, needed, and well-meaning," Rey said. "But we all -- including the state -- may have underestimated how much it really takes to engage and serve students who are disconnected."
OPP estimates that between 30,000 and 40,000 students in Connecticut can be defined as over-aged and under-credited -- this means they've struggled for years with truancy, failing classes, or getting into trouble.
In a meeting in May prior to the closure announcement, many students became emotional at the thought of their school closing. Now that it's happening, each of them will be placed in a school that fits their needs, the state said, and will be offered support. The state is also working with the Windham school district and OPP to find an alternative approach, although it's unclear what that might be.