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Gulf Shores Academy, a troubled Houston charter school system with a powerhouse basketball program, has been ordered by the Texas Education Agency to shut its doors.
Commissioner Shirley Neeley's decision — delivered to school leaders on Tuesday — marks the first time the state has forced a Texas charter school to close mid-school year, officials said.
The court order stated that Texas Commissioner of Education Shirley Neeley cannot take any action to close Gulf Shores until a full hearing is held Monday. The state cannot seize property, prevent Gulf Shores from educating students or initiate communication with any student, vendor or staff member concerning Gulf Shores' potential closure, the ruling says.
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"For the time being, their course of instruction is not going to be disrupted," said Gulf Shores attorney Ron Wilson, a former state representative.
The Texas Education Agency has been fighting to close Gulf Shores for several years. Last week, the state hand-delivered a notice saying it won't renew the school's charter, a contract that was granted in 1998. It cited a poor academic record and severe financial mismanagement, including a roughly $8 million debt to the state for overreporting student attendance in past years.
Gulf Shores' violations of state rules have been "pervasive, serious, and on-going, as have its problems adhering to generally accepted accounting standards of fiscal management. It is not in the best interest of GSA's students for the commissioner to renew the charter," according to an August ruling by the State Office of Administrative Hearings, which prompted Neeley's decision.
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