Students head back to ACEL's closed Fresno campus to get transcripts, arrange transfer

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- ACEL Fresno Charter High School has abruptly shut down in the middle of the school year amid financial troubles. On Friday, students and staff headed back to campus to get their belongings and move forward.

More than 100 students and their teachers headed to the campus to try and figure out how to transfer to a new school by next week. Students who attended ACEL Fresno Charter High School waited in line to get their transcripts printed, less than a day after school board members voted to close down the school immediately. The school first opened in 2009.

The abrupt closure on Thursday came after nearly a week of protesting by students about ACEL's financial troubles -- and not without a lot of emotion. Kathryn Harris, a junior at the school, says the overall feeling today is melancholy. Harris said, "Just saying goodbye, It's a nice building. We met some great teachers and made some great friends." Alexander Estrada, a senior, said, "It's very sad. I mean, I grew up over the last four years with a lot of these students, and I'm not sure I'll ever really see them anymore."

Many hugged, some were in tears as they realized their long fight to save the school ended in disappointment. Principal Stephen Morris said he's upset, too. Morris said, "It was for financial reasons. We didn't have enough money to pay the bills that we had anticipated, and if you can't do that and pay staff there's no sense in having it open."

Several other Fresno charter schools and Fresno Unified School District officials were also at ACEL to advise students on their best options. Debra Odom, with Fresno Unified, said," We are definitely committed to working with families to make sure this transition is as smooth as possible." Myra Ferguson, a parent of a sophomore at the school, told Action News, "It's sad that it happened in the middle of the school year. It's difficult for teenagers to be separated from their friends. Obviously, they've made a lot of close friendships."

ACEL's closure does not mean its financial troubles go away. The school is still in more than $300,000 in debt and administrators say they'll be working with the state and community partners to try and pay it off.

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