Parents fight to keep school open despite embezzlement allegations
Parents and students filled the auditorium of an area charter school Thursday night, fighting to keep the facility open after one of its founders was accused of stealing more than half a million dollars from it.
Parents are frustrated that the Latin Academy, a charter middle school on Metropolitan Parkway in southwest Atlanta, is on the verge of closing less than four years after it was founded. Several students presented letters to the school's board of directors, pleading with them to find a way to keep the school operating.
One of the founders of Latin Academy was Christopher Clemons, who also served as the financial director. Clemons is now under investigation, accused by the board of directors of stealing more than $600,000 from the school for personal use.
Clemons has not been charged with a crime. Police began investigating him after administrators reported the missing money, claiming that Clemons and one other employee were the only ones with access to the money.
As a result of the missing funds, Atlanta Public School officials put the school on probation.
During Thursday night's meeting, it was revealed that Latin Academy administrators did not secure enough funding in the form of grants and state funding to keep it operational.
Parents at the meeting were visibly upset and made their frustrations clear.
"You have failed these students, this community and their opportunity and right to social and educational equality," said one man in attendance.
Another attendee of the meeting said school officials are out of touch with parents with students enrolled at the facility.
"Every day, kids of the same color are laying dead in the street, or they're in the news because they're robbing somebody," said the woman. "You don't live on this side of town so you don't see where we come from."
After hearing the public comments, the board of directors decided to postpone the closure vote until next month.