Marion Military Academy to stay open, despite recommendation to close

By Sarah Panko, Marion County Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017, 7:07 PM EDT

Marion County School Board members voted this week to keep a charter high school open, despite the superintendent's recommendation to close it. 

  • Marion Military Academy to stay open for another year
  • Superintendent wanted to close the school
  • School board voted to keep it open

On Tuesday, the board voted 3 to 2 to keep Francis Marion Military Academy in Ocala open for a year. 

Board member Nancy Stacy was one of the three who voted to keep the school open. She says this issue ‚Äčis a deflection from other issues.

"In our superintendent's own backyard, we have 16 percent to 20 percent of our elementary schools that is in bad of shape or worse shape than Francis Marion," said Stacy. 

Superintendent Dr. Heidi Maier says the Department of Education gave the school a grade of I or Incomplete last year and 3 D's before that.

"The problem is the lack of academic performance and a lack of oversight and a lack of engagement with those students," Maier said. "It was time to take action because we cannot use our students to experiment on."

Darryl Downs' son is one of about 160 students that attend the charter school. Downs says he was outraged when he heard the superintendent was recommending to the school board to close the school.

"There's no reason for it. This school has done so much for him in the first year, and done so much for the other kids that I've seen from coming and picking him up and stuff like that, and seeing all that they do," Downs said. "I couldn't believe that they would want to do that."

The superintendent says they will continue to reach out to the school to get them to come to the professional development they offer.

The school is one of four charter schools in the county. The board will revisit this in a year.