50 hours of testimony planned at Thackston hearings
More than 50 hours of testimony is expected to be taken over eight days of hearings that will determine the fate of York City's Helen Thackston Charter School.
The York City school board voted unanimously in June to start the process to revoke the charter it granted in 2009 — and renewed in 2014 — for Helen Thackston Charter School.
The process will begin Oct. 13 with the first of eight hearings.
The public hearings scheduled for Oct. 13, 16, 17, 20 and 24 and Nov. 15 and 16 will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to Thackston solicitor Brian Leinhauser.
A hearing on Oct. 30 will run from 2 to 7 p.m.
The hearings will take place at the York City School District administration building, 31 N. Pershing Ave., according to school board secretary Mindy Wantz.
Leinhauser said preparations by his legal team have been going “as they should be,” gathering evidence, seeking witnesses to testify and finalizing their case against the district’s motion to revoke the 9-year-old school’s charter.
He added the school has notified parents of the upcoming plans to revoke the charter and said parents have reached out to the school's administration to see what assistance they could provide to the school.
If a relevant point is made by the attorneys for York City during their arguments, Leinhauser said he would “call whatever witness is appropriate,” which could include some parents of students at the school.
In its motion to revoke Thackston's charter, the city school district cited poor academic performance, lower-than-required teacher certifications and missed deadlines for several document submissions, including audits and annual reports.
Thackston saw more challenges over the summer after The York Dispatch reported that Kimberly Kirby, former school business manager and sister of former principal Denise Butts, had been arrested on felony theft charges.
Charging documents state Kirby stole upward of $12,000 in cash, checks and products from the school.
In July, Leinhauser said he hoped hearing dates would occur during afternoon hours so concerned parents could make it to the hearings.
Hearing officer Ellen Schurdak stated in a letter to York City school board president Margie Orr in July that she would try to schedule hearings back-to-back to ensure a speedy process.