Fresno's ACEL Charter School is closing immediately due to financial problems

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Valley charter school abruptly cancelled classes for the rest of the year Monday. The closure leaves seniors to wonder if they will graduate this spring.

ACEL-Fresno charter school is in a roughly $300,000 hole, and just learned it won't be able to take loans to pay the bills.

Despite pleas from parents and students Thursday was the last day of classes. A quick vote by the board sealed the fate of ACEL.

"The irresponsibility that took place is like a slap in the face to the students," said Sylvia Cruz, the mother of an ACEL senior.

Cruz and other parents were not quiet about their outrage. She told the board the decision to close the school abandons the entire student body at the small school.

"It breaks my heart because my daughter has been there from the beginning when they opened up here," Cruz said.

Students have been vocal all week. They protested Monday outside the school. And at the meeting Victor Cifuentes, an almost 19-year-old senior, spoke up. He's worried that since he must transfer he'll be forced, because of his age, to attend adult school.

"It really hurts us a lot," Cifuentes said. "We were raised in this school and we love this school so much. We were not planning for this to happen. And two months from graduation? What are we planning to do now?"

The board defended itself Thursday at the fateful meeting. "It pains me to vote that we have to close the school," said Board President Ruben Fernandez.

Many of the cash problems are being blamed on the unnamed company the board contracted to monitor its finances. Recently, the massive funding deficit was revealed.

I am responsible as your board member," John Minkler said. "I didn't see this coming as critical as it was."

Principal Stephen Morris responded to students after being called out by Cifuentes. He told students he's hurt by the closure and offered personal help in the transition. "I'm saying to you individually, do not give up," he said.

Despite offers to help smooth the transition parents are still worried. "Who is to take them," questioned Cruz. "How is this going to affect them getting into college? How is it going to affect us, period?"

The board said it tried but couldn't find private funding to save the school.

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