Fresno Co. Office of Education votes to keep Downtown Fresno's Kepler Neighborhood School open

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Supporters of Kepler Neighborhood School sat at the edge of their seats Thursday, waiting to hear the fate of their school.

The Downtown Fresno charter school was denied renewal by the Fresno Unified School District back in May because of low test scores in math and language arts spanning over five years.

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Dr. Margaret Ameel, the school's superintendent, petitioned that decision asking the Fresno County Board of Education to step in to help.

"We know we have some work to do. We've already implemented an enormous amount of change we've brought in a dean of student we've just hired a new site director with an amazing academic background," said Dr. Ameel.

The charter petition review committee analyzed the concerns related to the petition, outlining many in a 20-page staff report that described areas where new test scores in recent months showed growth.

The report provides data that the committee says Fresno Unified did not have at the time of its decision, "Evidence of that are those test scores that have come in in that short period."

Susan Martin was there with her two kids, hoping for the best, "The teachers there are passionate, the families are really committed, and involved. It is a really special and unique place."

Michelle Murphy, a representative from the California Charter School Association also addressed the board. She said her organization has recommended that the board, "Not renew Kepler based on the charter schools academic performance."

After that, the five members made their decision, choosing in a four to one vote to keep the school open.

The decision left many in the crowd overwhelmed with emotion and relief.

Parent Rebekah Hesox said, "I'm excited and relieved and ecstatic that we get to continue. Tears of joy, definitely."
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