San Jose charter school set to close next year, parents blindsided

A charter school in San Jose is fighting to stay open after the school board voted not to renew its lease for next school year. Board members said Cornerstone Academy Preparatory School did not meet certain criteria but leaders of the charter school disagree and many parents said they were blindsided.

“This is their school, this is what they know, their friends, their teachers,” said Parent Danny Noriega.

Noriega chokes up at the thought his children’s school for now will close.

“It’s nine years part of the school and then all of a sudden one night takes it all away,” said Noriega.

Many San Jose parents said the decision to shutter the school’s doors was unexpected and abrupt.

“Why did they decide to close down on such a short notice and why wasn’t there another opportunity to express how we feel and the importance of the school being here,” said Parent Candy Bui.

Founded in 2010, Cornerstone Academy serves kindergarten through eighth grade. It was named a two-time California Distinguished school and is part of the Franklin-McKinley School District.

Last week, the school board voted 3 to 2 to deny the charter school's petition to renew its lease leaving the school community in disbelief.

“They are upset. They are angry and they don't know why this has happened,” said Alpha Public Schools Chief Schools Officer Shara Hegde.

The district declined an on-camera interview but sent a statement that listed three reasons including Cornerstone does not enroll a comparable percentage of Latino students to rest of the district. 

The district also said the school does not currently and has never enrolled a student with moderate or severe disabilities and the district cites an achievement gap for math achievement scores for students with disabilities. 

“None of these statements are grounded in the law of whether a charter school should be renewed or not it's as simple as that,” said Hegde.

Some parents are now wondering if they'll have to find another school.

“We do not know,” said Noriega. “We don’t have a plan in place yet.”

Bui said she may home school.

“If we could afford a private school, I don't think that's the answer because this is where our children are and this is where we have been rooted here,” said Bui.

The school plans to appeal to the Santa Clara County Board of Education. If the county denies the appeal, the school will then take it to the State Board of Education, where a decision could be made in May.