DENVER — Around 200 students at Wyatt Academy, a tuition-free public charter school in Denver's Cole neighborhood, will have to find a new school to attend next year.
After several years of under-enrollment, the Wyatt Academy Board of Directors announced it will shutter the K-5 school at the end of this school year after voting to form a partnership with University Prep, a nearby network of two public charter schools. But parents and teachers said they were caught off-guard by that decision and are fighting to keep the charter school's doors open for at least another year.
"What has become overwhelmingly clear through this whole process is that you are not qualified to make decisions for why it happened," said Hollis Barton, a Wyatt Academy kindergarten teacher, to the Board of Directors during an emotional meeting Thursday afternoon.
According to the school board, University Prep will take in all Wyatt students. The community said they had no input until after it was a done deal.
Now, it's unclear if the school could stay open, even after the board's vote.
"I think it boils down to... we're asking for basic respect as humans and as professionals, as parents, as students and as members of the community. And I think it's pretty clear that respect was not shown to us," said Tim Lewis, a fifth grade teacher at Wyatt Academy.
Board Chair Katie Brown said the board has been tasked with finding a path to financial sustainability for years but it wasn't feasible.
"It's our mission to make sure that [there are] the best student outcomes and access to the most robust programming, and obviously the best access to great quality teachers. That's our mission. And I believe that this is fulfilling that mission," said Brown.
According to Wyatt Academy, the school's 12 teachers will be given the opportunity to explore careers at University Prep.
A second public meeting will be held on February 8 at 4 p.m. at Wyatt Academy.