Ga. charter school principal resigned as parents claim mismanagement impacting students

A CBS46 investigation found a history of mismanagement claims, as the recent claims have students stuck in limbo without correct transcripts and other documentation.
Updated: Nov. 12, 2021 at 5:49 PM EST
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ATLANTA (CBS46) — A metro Atlanta school principal resigned as parents claimed transcript troubles plagued the campus. A CBS46 investigation found, allegations of mismanagement is not unchartered territory for the charter school.

“What grade is he in now?” CBS46′s Ciara Cummings asked. “No one knows,” Neryanda Hall replied.

For Hall, answers have come fewer times than the questions. The mom says her son Damico was supposed to be finished with his courses at Skyview Charter after nearly two years there. The school is considered a credit recovery option for Fulton County students.

“Where did the ball get dropped,” Hall questioned. “It didn’t get dropped on my son’s end. It didn’t get dropped on the parent’s end. Only other place that’s left is the school.”

Damico struggled with grades at his original high school due to a learning disability, his mom explained. The family alleges he was supposed to be catching up but he’s now further behind because the school mismanaged student records like his transcript.

CBS46 Investigates obtained a copy of Damico’s student transcript. It reflects his previous enrollment at Langston High and the breakdown of those classes -- outlining any credits attempted or earned. The transcript shows his Skyview enrollment beginning January 2020 but then there is no record of Skyview credits, whether attempted or earned, despite school documents showing Damico did enroll in several classes and took the finals for them. Other parents cite the same complaints.

“You’re just messing the students up and they’re getting frustrated,” Delcelia Sellars explained.

Sellars’ son, Jakeevin, had a transcript revealing a similar issue.

“Like he hadn’t done anything, completed anything since he had been there.” She says that concerning transcript is all the school gave her of his last semester. It shows he was enrolled but no record of Skyview classes or credits whether attempted or earned.

Emails show that both families, Hall and Sellars, repeatedly reached out to officials trying to resolve the issues, adamant it was wrong.

“That’ll just make a lot of students want to give up and say forget it,” Sellars added.

In a resignation letter CBS46 obtained, the now former principal Shaun Heckstall blamed the management company, Accelerated Learning Solutions, for ongoing mishaps with transcripts and coursework scoring. The letter says in part, “students have been educationally injured by ALS,” adding, it’s “disconcerting at best and egregious at worst.”

Alleging, an ALS director even admitted “we could not trust the day to day monitoring information...most of your student’s transcripts and data driven reports are inaccurate.”

ALS denied the claims in a letter, calling them “falsehoods” and that they “remain committed to making sure the school is on track.” The company suggested the families with issues had other motives.

“I feel like they’re robbing the kids of their education. There’s no checks and balances here,” Sellars said.

Accusations against the charter company have come before. A 2016 whistleblower lawsuit details a former employee claiming to witness grade tampering and that he was asked to sign and verify forms which were incomplete and/or inaccurate.

According to court records, the case was later settled. Meanwhile, some parents feel anything but.

“They’re supposed to have it where their education comes first. It didn’t,” Hall said.

ALS denies any wrongdoing. In an emailed response to CBS46 questions, the company attributed some transcript issues to the vacant position of a Data Specialist. The company also said challenges and mistakes happened due to system changes, saying in part:

However, the Fulton County School District told CBS46 as result of the allegations, they reduced the renewal period for the charter school.