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Parents, students panicking after Youngstown charter school closes

Mahoning Valley Opportunity Center on Glenwood Avenue in Youngstown closed Monday due to a lack of funding

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) - Students and parents are feeling angry, confused, and betrayed after a Youngstown charter school shut down.

Tuesday morning, they showed up at Mahoning Valley Opportunity Center on Glenwood Avenue and found the doors locked. Now they want answers and solutions -- fast.

Mishell Gentles said sending her son to MVOC was the first time she felt good about his education. She said the small, distraction-free environment was just what he needed.

Yesterday, her heart sank.

"It was really a punch in the face to go there 7:00 in the morning, thinking you're gonna drop your kid off so they can go to school, and when you get there, there's not even any lights in the place," Gentles said.

Rosalyn Stevenson said her son, Marquan, thrived at the school. He found out it had closed from a bus driver on his way there Tuesday morning.

"We did not get a phone call. We did not get a letter saying that the school was closed," Stevenson said.

Marquan said the vibe at school had been strange for a while and he knew something was up.

"They was talking about, like, they didn't have enough funding and the teachers was telling me they don't know if they're gonna close it right now or wait for the end of the school year."

No head's up from MVOC means parents are now scrambling to find options for their kids.

"I don't know what to do because I don't want my son to go back to East High School, I really don't," Gentles said.

Stephenson said she feels her trust in administrators at the school is broken.

"I feel hurt for the other kids that they don't know where else they're gonna go and I feel hurt for the teachers because now they don't have a job."

In conversations with parents, teachers, and students over the past two days, one thing keeps coming up is a lack of bussing.

According to MVOC, kids stopped coming and the money stopped flowing. Teachers and parents said bussing was a reason their kids couldn't or didn't come to school.

Youngstown City Schools Transportation said it collects bussing information for all public, charter, and community schools -- which there are over 30 of -- by July 1. It said MVOC submitted its paperwork in mid-August, over a month late.

The transportation director said it was impossible to re-route buses to accommodate MVOC without the school changing its operating hours. Youngstown City Schools offered MVOC WRTA bus passes instead.

Now that the charter school has closed, leaders at Youngstown City Schools said they will make sure every student is placed in another school.


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