Parents, community leaders, and concerned citizens packed Lester Community Center Saturday afternoon for two hours to debate what has been happening at Cornerstone Prep, which is part of the new Achievement School District.
The community center was filled with emotion at times as sensitive topics were discussed by children and parents, issues they say have been happening since the charter school took over the school formerly known as Lester School.
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"My problem came with Cornerstone when my daughter had an asthma attack at 9:30 a.m. and I got notified at 2:45 p.m.," said one concerned charter school parent.
"My teacher took my shoes," said one of the students who attend Cornerstone Prep.
One of the issues that seemed to dominate much of the meeting was a feeling of "lost identity" after a name change of the school, new school colors and a new mascot, not to mention the lack of an African-American presence on the school staff. The student body is mostly made up of African-American children.
While much of the crowd Saturday was made up of people unhappy with Cornerstone Prep, those who are pleased with the school's progress wanted to be heard as well. One parent who praised the charter school said his son's grades have turned around since the new school moved in.
"Whatever it takes for my son to go to college and to learn and be smart," the parent said.
The room was divided and emotional. It was silenced when a familiar face and leader took the microphone, former Memphis Mayor and former Memphis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Willie Herenton. He encouraged those in attendance to control their emotions and focus on the children.
He also shared what his "next step" is in the Cornerstone Prep controversy.
"I've pledged to take this up with our governor," Dr. Herenton said. "Let's give the governor a chance to explain."
Dr. Herenton told FOX13 News he plans to send a letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam Jan. 28 to request a meeting to discuss concerns over the charter school as soon as possible.