WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A large contingent of parents and former parents of students at Coastal Preparatory Academy gathered to speak during the public comment period at the school board’s meeting Thursday.
Several demanded Head of School Jamie Getz resign, while others accused fellow parents of “cyber-bullying” and spreading rumors. Emotions ran high, leading to a tense confrontation while the board was in closed session to discuss personnel matters.
Coastal Preparatory Academy (CPA) opened its doors to students in the fall of 2017 as New Hanover County’s sixth charter school.
Getz, who, according to her profile on the school’s website, is a licensed counselor with a background in clinical counseling, was one of the founding board members for the school, which is operated by Challenge Foundation Academy (CFA).
Speaking during the comment period, parents alleged Getz is “grossly under-qualified” for her position as Head of Schools, and her leadership concerns them.
Donovan Davis, a parent of a former CPA student, told WECT he and his wife withdrew their son after they say he was verbally abused and physically threatened.
“Many incidences happened that were not addressed that put my childrens’ safety at risk," he said. "So with eight weeks left in the school year, my wife and I couldn’t take it anymore.”
Kelly Bronsky, who was briefly on the CPA board, said her child was singled out for having an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which are designed for students with special learning needs.
She said her son advocated for himself, but the situation was upsetting.
Bronsky said she temporarily removed her son from the school after an encounter with a fellow board member last fall, because she didn’t feel comfortable with how things were being done.
Others joined Bronsky in their concern over how many faculty and staff have vacated their positions over the last two years.
Parents say 18-20 employees have left the school, and hundreds of students have withdrawn from the program.
WECT reached out to Getz to see if she wanted to respond to the calls for her resignation, or the accusations of problems being ignored, but as of Friday evening reporters have not received a response.
During the heated confrontation in the hallway outside the board meeting, parents who showed up to support the school and administration accused the other side of “bullying.”
Christie Smith said she came because she wanted a positive voice heard about the school, because she disagrees with what the other parents are saying.
“From my experiences, everything inside the walls of this school is amazing," she said. "If you take social media out of this equation everything is amazing at this school. The morale, the way teachers talk to students and the positive experience is amazing.”
In a letter to parents Thursday night, the CPA board said they wanted to assuage the concerns of parents.
“Good things are happening at CPA,” the memo reads. “You know it, and we want the outside world to know it too. In today’s world of social media, it’s easy to believe the loudest voices, instead of voices of truth that speak through positive, concrete actions with measurable deliverables.”
CFA has another charter school in the works in Pender County, though parents at Thursday night’s meeting say the company should focus on addressing issues at CPA before embarking on the new project.
Davis says he’s against the new Pender County school for that reason.
“There are things that this school needs to fix within itself prior to trying to branch out,” Davis said.