Parents left scrambling after school says it won't open days before new year

Parents left scrambling after school says it won't open days before new year

ATLANTA — As children prepare to head back to school next week, dozens of parents in the west end are being forced to figure out what to do with their children after their school was shut down.

Parents of students who were set to go to The Harriet Tubman School of Science and Technology told Channel 2's Lori Wilson they were hoping to give their kids a head start. The charter school focuses on science, technology, engineering and math education.

But the school put out a statement Friday, saying students will have to wait another year for the school to open because it did not obtain a certificate of occupancy from the city of Atlanta.

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“For them to not have a building to get an education in is so wrong,” said Joyce Paden, whose grandson was supposed to go to the school this year. “For him, just to be 7 years old, he was looking forward to it, just like we were. So, for his dreams to be crushed is very hurtful.”


The city notified the STEM-focused charter school by letter Aug. 2, that there were still several things the school needed to do to get its 100-year-old building up to code.

The city said it worked with the school for months on the issue of compliance.

“It's not unsafe. I've been in there, and it's, like, a real nice building,” Paden told Wilson.

But according to the city, among other items, the school was missing panic hardware, fire extinguishers, handrails and smoke detectors.

“Now we have to wait for another year. Which is not good, because I was really looking forward to my son going to this school, starting at an early age,” parent Alisia Evans said.

Wilson went inside the school Friday and was shown fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and panic hardware on the doors.

But the city said the school has yet to prove it's met all safety requirements, including becoming compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The school said it will continue to work with the city to try to be up to code for students by next year.

“We're going to have to find my grandson another school to go to, and that's not right because he wants to be here,” Paden said.

The school needs a permit from the city in order to be allowed to operate by the state charter commission.

School leaders spent Friday helping parents find other schools for their children.