In a surprise announcement at Gwinnett County Public School's monthly board meeting Thursday night, Ivy Preparatory Academy's Head of School Nina Gilbert told the five-member school board that she would not accept its offer to become a Gwinnett charter school.
The all-girls school located in Peachtree Corners had lost its charter last month when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that commissioned charter schools were unconstitutional.
Standing before the board Gilbert said: "Your proposed funding was much lower than what we received as a commissioned school and very close to what we receive as a state special charter school.
"Therefore, we respectfully rescind our request for approval from the Gwinnett County School Board, and we ask that you not vote on the charter for the 2011-12 school year."
GCPS officials and the board of directors for Ivy Prep had been meeting for several weeks to work out details for the school to incorporate into the Gwinnett County Public School system. School officials had anticipated the beleaguered charter school to accept their offer.
"This was a surprise," said Dr. Mary Kay Murphy after the announcement. Murphy, along with the rest of the board, expressed their surprise in Gilbert's decision to turn down the school board's offer.
Gilbert said that Ivy Prep would now seek approval for a state charter special school "in an effort to continue to educate not just scholars of Gwinnett County but those who commute from DeKalb and surrounding counties," she said.
Details had been worked out that would have enabled Ivy Prep to serve its students for one year while petitions for future years would be evaluated.
"I'm surprised and disappointed," said school board Chairman Dr. Robert McClure who added that he had thought all parties were in agreement.
Ivy Prep has 582 students currently enrolled in the school which serves students in grades 6-9. However, 190 of those students live in DeKalb County.
Under GCPS's proposed charter, funding for the DeKalb students was not included.
The board were obviously perplexed at the reversal of what they assumed was merely a formality in bringing Ivy Prep into the school system, and some wondered aloud if it was because Gwinnett was not able to provide funds for the 190 students from neighboring DeKalb.
"We cannot fund DeKalb's kids," said school board member Daniel Seckinger.
Despite Ivy Prep's decision, the school board unanimously approved the charter. "Our offer is on the table," said Murphy. "We will welcome her into the school system. The decision rests with her."