The woman behind an application for a York City charter school — denied for the third time Wednesday — said she's not going away.
Cynthia Dotson, who spent 10 years as principal of the Crispus Attucks YouthBuild Charter School, has been trying since 2012 to earn the York City School District's blessing to open the Championship Academy of Distinction. Dotson has said the K-8 school would emphasize health and fitness in its curriculum.
Citing a litany of reasons through its attorney, the district's school board voted unanimously to deny Dotson's application. The board denied similar applications twice before.
"I'm not going to swim a 10-mile race and get to the ninth mile and turn around and swim backwards," Dotson said in a phone interview Wednesday night. "That's not going to happen."
Last week, Dotson and her supporters delivered a brief presentation to the board about the proposed school. But it didn't go so well.
The academy's attorney tried multiple times to submit supplemental materials to the board. For example, the application, submitted in November, proposes the York YWCA as the physical site of the school.
That option no longer exists, but Dotson said she has lease options for facilities at 610 W. Philadelphia St. and 601 Madison Ave.
Attempts to submit documentation supporting that claim were denied each time by the district's attorney, who said the extra materials came too late in the process.
Dotson said she believes it was "a done deal before we walked into the room."
"Nothing I said, they were open to hear," she said.
At the hearing last week, district administrators recommended that the board deny Dotson's application.
Assistant Superintendent Tamara Willis said the application failed to identify specific assessment measures, achievement goals and educational programs, for example.
The application numbers 2,400 pages, Dotson said.
"And they're trying to say that I didn't have enough detail?" she said.
Willis also said the district's attempts to verify many of the pre-enrollment forms from interested parents in Dotson's application were unsuccessful. Willis alleged that some of those forms and letters of support from community members appeared to be fraudulent.
That's just not true, Dotson said. And the board should have recognized community support in the dozens of people who attended last week's hearing in support of the application, she said.
Board members did not discuss the issue before they voted Wednesday, but district solicitor Jeff Gettle gave a brief explanation for the denial. He said the district will provide the applicant with a full report explaining the decision.
Dotson said she has not yet decided whether to appeal the board's decision or submit a fourth application.
"But either way I will be back," she said.
— Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.