MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Monday, parents, students, and community members learned about what they can expect from Montgomery's first approved public charter school.
It was standing room only at LEAD Academy's future campus, located on 2897 Eastern Blvd., during the first community meeting.
"We are going to have a culture of high expectations," said Charlotte Meadows, LEAD Academy Board Chair.
A strong foundation is what Amy McCurdy, who recently moved to Montgomery, wants for her son and for herself as an educator.
"I was impressed. They really thought a lot of things through. Definitely so far I would be okay with putting my son here starting in kindergarten," said McCurdy.
The state intervention of the Montgomery Public School System is what prompted Keonia Rogers to attend the meeting to learn more.
"It has been a great concern of mine. So if I can find any type of alternative so my son can prosper academically I definitely will," said Keonia Rogers.
A charter school is a public school, funded by the state with the freedom to target specific educational goals. LEAD Academy has its own board that will make all the decisions for the school.
"We hire the management company, we hire the principal, and the principal hires the teachers. We hold the principal accountable to certain standards. We have more accountability and we can have more accountability from our employee staff. We make sure we accomplish what we want to accomplish," said Lead Academy Board Chair Charlotte Meadows.
Meadows says the plan is to start with Kindergarten through 5th grade and expand by one grade level each year. The student teacher ratio will be 24 to 1. The curriculum would focus on Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, Math, and Social/Emotional Learning. There will also be a strong focus on parental involvement.
"The biggest aspect is the social and emotional learning part. That starts with our teachers starting out with home visits over the summer time," said Meadows.
Right now the Academy can only accept applications and recruit staff. Actual enrollment and hiring is on hold pending a lawsuit filed by the Alabama Education Association. Academy officials say they hope it will be resolved soon.
"We believe what we are doing is in the best interest of our children. So this is a battle we need to win," said Meadows.
The five-count lawsuit names the members of the Alabama Public Charter School Commission, Ed Richardson and LEAD Education Foundation as defendants. The lawsuit states there was no legally effective vote of approval by the Charter School Commission when voting to form a Montgomery Charter School.
The lawsuit claims the school was not approved by a 5-1 vote on Feb. 12, making it unauthorized. The lawsuit says six affirmative votes were necessary for the approval of the school. It also alleges that a member of the Montgomery County Board of Education wasn't included in the process and LEAD Academy's application did not meet the criteria set out in the law authorizing schools.
A hearing is set for April 30, but a judge is allowing LEAD Academy to go ahead and recruit employees for all staffing positions, advertise and accept applications from potential students, and secure a location.
Though there are legal hurdles to cross due to a lawsuit, LEAD Academy says it expects to be up and running for the start of the new school year in September. A registration interest form for students is on the school's website.
LEAD Academy will host another informational meeting on Tuesday, April 24 at 5:30 p.m. at 2897 Eastern Boulevard.