Career Academy announces it is closing its doors

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Nearly 200 students at a tuition-free charter school will be scrambling to find other schools to attend come fall after learning their school is closing.

The dilemma for The Career Academy in Baton Rouge is a building. Theirs won't be available.

Officials from the school addressed concerned students, parents and teachers Wednesday night, explaining a decision to close the school on May 23.

"We are working right now for placement of students and faculty and staff in the event a building is not secured by the end of the year," said Career Academy Principal Mandy LaCerte.

The school is located on East Brookstown Drive but the building is owned by the East Baton Rouge Parish School System and is needed to house another school next year. Career Academy, which operates as a charter school under a five-year agreement with EBRSS, is still without a secured home. The news was a crushing blow for students like Andrea Price, who said the thought of transferring to another school and losing credits is hard to bear.

"If they do this now, it's going to make me feel like, 'Well, I'm going to give up and try to go, too,' because I don't think any school is going to help me the way Career Academy helps me," said Price.

That sentiment was shared by some in law enforcement, who believe the school is keeping some of these students from traveling down the wrong road.

"You're giving kids an opportunity to go to college," said Officer Menard Dillard with the Baton Rouge Police Department. "You're giving kids an opportunity to go get a job, to do it legal and be productive in society."

Career Academy is operated by Louisiana Resource Center for Educators and officials thought it had a location lined up at Capital High School but the deal fell through and now it is hoping state leaders can step in and bridge the gap.

"We've worked with a lot of people the last few months," said Nancy Roberts, LRCE executive director. "We did not want to make this announcement. Our board does not want to vote to surrender the charter because I feel we are turning the corner and our school is improving."

A representative from the East Baton Rouge School System was at the meeting and said the parish will do everything it can to help place students and teachers into other schools in the system.

Copyright 2014 WAFB. All rights reserved.